Steve Cooke

measuring the boundaries of our nation by the sun

Favourite Philosophy Books


This blog is about the reading of books, and I was thinking earlier about the books that I’ve most enjoyed reading, or have complimented my studies the most, since starting my journey into academia. For some reason, these sorts of lists are usually end up being multipliers of ten – mine is not. So here they are – the books that I love:

  1. The Right and the Good, W.D. Ross – I just love this book to bits. Ross is a wonderfully gentle writer, and I’m fascinated by intuitionism (one day I’ll convince someone to fund me to develop an intuitionist approach to non-human animals). I bought this on a whim, having come across a reference to Ross in a footnote of something I was reading, and fell in love with it immediately.
  2. Rights, Peter Jones – if there’s a better introductory book on Rights I’ve yet to find it. A book I’ve gone back to again and again over the last five years.
  3. Applied Ethics, Peter Singer (ed) – this little collection of incredibly influential papers is endlessly useful and thought provoking.
  4. What does it all mean?, Thomas Nagel – 101 perfectly formed pages of engaging writing on some of biggest philosophical problems there are. It’s been my recent lunch-break companion.
  5. Doing Philosophy, Joel Feinberg – this excellent guide to writing philosophy papers also contains some good chapters on logic, advice on grammar (I should read that again), and a short section on ‘the irrelevance of most library research’.
  6. An Introduction to Political Philosophy, Jonathan Wolff – Wolff’s book is really well written and covers a lot of ground. I use it to inform my teaching.
  7. The Elements of Moral Philosophy, James Rachels – I’m working my way through this slim volume at the moment, and am already in awe of Rachels’ ability to write clearly, comprehensively, and succinctly.

So that’s my little list of indispensable books – it probably says a lot about me that all of them are quite short. If my academic books were all stolen, I’d probably replace those seven first – what about you?


Author: Steve C

I work in normative ethics, specialising in animal and ethics and political philosophy.

4 thoughts on “Favourite Philosophy Books

  1. I have never studied philosophy formally but I found Philosophy: The Basics by Nigel Warbuton a really engaging intro to the subject.

    • Thanks for commenting. I did a brilliant unit on Theories of Rights during my MA, but that’s as close as I’ve come to any formal teaching on philosophy, so your recommendation is very welcome. Is that Nigel’s new book? If so, then I think it’s already on my wish list. If you aren’t familiar with it already, I recommend paying a visit to Philosophy Bites, run by David Edmonds and Nigel Warbuton; they have loads of short, accessible podcasts on all sorts of interesting topics. I used to listen to them on the treadmill at the gym.

      • I don’t know if it’s his latest sorry- I mostly stick to fiction but wander into fields of non-fiction interest occasionally. I love those pod casts though.

  2. Having now checked – the one I was thinking of is an edited collection he’s just published (Jan), con-incidentally called Philosophy Bites. I’ll add the one you mentioned to my reading list.

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