What's wrong with stealing?
What's the best way to blood test a pot-bellied pig?
Should we tolerate intolerance?
In the wake of his enormously popular books, The Armchair Economistand More Sex is Safer Sex, Steven Landsburg uses concepts from maths, economics and physics to address the big questions in philosophy: Where does knowledge come from? What's the difference between right and wrong? Do our beliefs matter? Is it possible to know everything?
Provocative, utterly entertaining and always surprising, The Big Questions challenges readers to re-evaluate their most fundamental beliefs and reveals the relationship between the loftiest philosophical quests and our everyday lives.
With an folksy style and overly reductive economics, Landsburg (The Armchair Economist) solves, to his own satisfaction, a host of such philosophical problems as the limits of knowledge, what reality is and why we should reject liberal social policies based on fairness. With a founding claim that mathematical objects are "real" (albeit real in a way that is never made quite clear) the author argues for the necessity of the universe, before offering refutations of intelligent design and St. Anselm's proof for the existence of God. The possibility of knowledge is demonstrated by familiarizing the reader with a few ideas the author simply knows to be true such as G del's theorem and Heisenberg's uncertainty principle. Sections on morality and "the life of the mind" apply the "Economist's Golden Rule" to questions of right and wrong before advising the reader not to bother studying English literature. While serving up plenty of sound economics, the book falls short on the philosophy, displaying not only conceptual inconsistencies but an intolerance for the irrational dimensions of human existence.