Ethics in the Real World: 82 Brief Essays on Things That Matter
Peter Singer is often described as the world's most influential philosopher. He is also one of its most controversial. The author of important books such as Animal Liberation, Practical Ethics, Rethinking Life and Death, and The Life You Can Save, he helped launch the animal rights and effective altruism movements and contributed to the development of bioethics. Now, in Ethics in the Real World, Singer shows that he is also a master at dissecting important current events in a few hundred words.
In this book of brief essays, he applies his controversial ways of thinking to issues like climate change, extreme poverty, animals, abortion, euthanasia, human genetic selection, sports doping, the sale of kidneys, the ethics of high-priced art, and ways of increasing happiness. Singer asks whether chimpanzees are people, smoking should be outlawed, or consensual sex between adult siblings should be decriminalized, and he reiterates his case against the idea that all human life is sacred, applying his arguments to some recent cases in the news. In addition, he explores, in an easily accessible form, some of the deepest philosophical questions, such as whether anything really matters and what is the value of the pale blue dot that is our planet. The collection also includes some more personal reflections, like Singer's thoughts on one of his favorite activities, surfing, and an unusual suggestion for starting a family conversation over a holiday feast.
Provocative and original, these essays will challenge – and possibly change – your beliefs about a wide range of real-world ethical questions.
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What a Fish Knows: The Inner Lives of Our Underwater Cousins
Do fishes think? Do they really have three-second memories? And can they recognize the humans who peer back at them from above the surface of the water? In What a Fish Knows, the myth-busting ethologist Jonathan Balcombe addresses these questions and more, taking us under the sea, through streams and estuaries, and to the other side of the aquarium glass to reveal the surprising capabilities of fishes. Although there are more than thirty thousand species of fish – more than all mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians combined – we rarely consider how individual fishes think, feel, and behave. Balcombe upends our assumptions about fishes, portraying them not as unfeeling, dead-eyed feeding machines but as sentient, aware, social, and even Machiavellian – in other words, much like us.
What a Fish Knows draws on the latest science to present a fresh look at these remarkable creatures in all their breathtaking diversity and beauty. Fishes conduct elaborate courtship rituals and develop lifelong bonds with shoal mates. They also plan, hunt cooperatively, use tools, curry favor, deceive one another, and punish wrongdoers. We may imagine that fishes lead simple, fleeting lives – a mode of existence that boils down to a place on the food chain, rote spawning, and lots of aimless swimming. But, as Balcombe demonstrates, the truth is far richer and more complex, worthy of the grandest social novel.
Highlighting breakthrough discoveries from fish enthusiasts and scientists around the world and pondering his encounters with fishes, Balcombe examines the fascinating means by which fishes gain knowledge of the places they inhabit, from shallow tide pools to the deepest reaches of the ocean.
Teeming with insights and exciting discoveries, What a Fish Knows offers a thoughtful appraisal of our relationships with fishes and inspires us to take a more enlightened view of the planet’s increasingly imperiled marine life. What a Fish Knows will forever change how we see our aquatic cousins – the pet goldfish included.
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Urban Forests: A Natural History of Trees and People in The American Cityscape
As nature’s largest and longest-lived creations, trees play an extraordinarily important role in our cities; they are living landmarks that define space, cool the air, soothe our psyches, and connect us to nature and our past. Today, four-fifths of Americans live in or near urban areas, surrounded by millions of trees of hundreds of different species. Despite their ubiquity and familiarity, most of us take trees for granted and know little of their fascinating natural history or remarkable civic virtues.
Jill Jonnes’s Urban Forests tells the captivating stories of the founding mothers and fathers of urban forestry, in addition to those arboreal advocates presently using the latest technologies to illuminate the value of trees to public health and to our urban infrastructure. The book examines such questions as the character of American urban forests and the effect that tree-rich landscaping might have on commerce, crime, and human well-being. For amateur botanists, urbanists, environmentalists, and policymakers, Urban Forests will be a revelation of one of the greatest, most productive, and most beautiful of our natural resources.
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The Right to Die
This book provides a comprehensive and contemporary examination of the right-to-die issues facing society now that vast improvements in public health care and medicine have resulted in people not only living longer but taking much longer to die – often in great pain and suffering.
- Provides readers a clear picture of the complexity of the right-to-die controversy as it has emerged in the courts and in the political branches of state and federal governments
- Presents perspectives written by advocates for and against the right to die that give personal insight into the reasons for their positions
- Supplies a selection of primary source documents that represent viewpoints from both sides of the right-to-die controversy
- Includes a fully annotated chapter that provides readers with secondary resources such as books, journal articles, and medical reports with which to explore the issue further
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The Rest of Us Just Live Here
A new YA novel from novelist Patrick Ness, author of the Carnegie Medal- and Kate Greenaway Medal-winning A Monster Calls and the critically acclaimed Chaos Walking trilogy, The Rest of Us Just Live Here is a bold and irreverent novel that powerfully reminds us that there are many different types of remarkable.
What if you aren't the Chosen One? The one who's supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?
What if you're like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.
Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week's end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.
Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions.
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The Rain in Portugal: Poems
The Rain in Portugal—a title that admits he’s not much of a rhymer—sheds Collins’s ironic light on such subjects as travel and art, cats and dogs, loneliness and love, beauty and death. His tones range from the whimsical — “the dogs of Minneapolis . . . / have no idea they’re in Minneapolis” — to the elegiac in a reaction to the death of Seamus Heaney. A student of the everyday, here Collins contemplates a weather vane, a still life painting, the calendar, and a child lost at a beach. His imaginative fabrications have Shakespeare flying comfortably in first class and Keith Richards supporting the globe on his head. By turns entertaining, engaging, and enlightening, The Rain in Portugal amounts to another chorus of poems from one of the most respected and familiar voices in the world of American poetry.
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The Fire This Time: A Generation Speaks About Race
National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward takes James Baldwin’s 1963 examination of race in America, The Fire Next Time, as a jumping off point for this groundbreaking collection of essays and poems about race from the most important voices of her generation and our time.
In light of recent tragedies and widespread protests across the nation, The Progressive magazine republished one of its most famous pieces: James Baldwin’s 1962 “Letter to My Nephew,” which was later published in his landmark book, The Fire Next Time. Addressing his fifteen-year-old namesake on the one-hundredth anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, Baldwin wrote: “You know, and I know, that the country is celebrating one hundred years of freedom one hundred years too soon.”
Award-winning author Jesmyn Ward knows that Baldwin’s words ring as true as ever today. In response, she has gathered short essays, memoir, and a few essential poems to engage the question of race in the United States. And she has turned to some of her generation’s most original thinkers and writers to give voice to their concerns.
The Fire This Time is divided into three parts that shine a light on the darkest corners of our history, wrestle with our current predicament, and envision a better future. Of the eighteen pieces, ten were written specifically for this volume.
In the fifty-odd years since Baldwin’s essay was published, entire generations have dared everything and made significant progress. But the idea that we are living in the post-Civil Rights era, that we are a “post-racial” society is an inaccurate and harmful reflection of a truth the country must confront. Baldwin’s “fire next time” is now upon us, and it needs to be talked about.
Contributors include Carol Anderson, Jericho Brown, Garnette Cadogan, Edwidge Danticat, Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, Mitchell S. Jackson, Honoree Jeffers, Kima Jones, Kiese Laymon, Daniel Jose Older, Emily Raboteau, Claudia Rankine, Clint Smith, Natasha Trethewey, Wendy S. Walters, Isabel Wilkerson, and Kevin Young
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From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds
One of America’s foremost philosophers offers a major new account of the origins of the conscious mind. How did we come to have minds? For centuries, this question has intrigued psychologists, physicists, poets, and philosophers, who have wondered how the human mind developed its unrivaled ability to create, imagine, and explain. Disciples of Darwin have long aspired to explain how consciousness, language, and culture could have appeared through natural selection, blazing promising trails that tend, however, to end in confusion and controversy. Even though our understanding of the inner workings of proteins, neurons, and DNA is deeper than ever before, the matter of how our minds came to have largely remained a mystery. That is now changing, says Daniel C. Dennett. In From Bacteria to Bach and Back, his most comprehensive exploration of evolutionary thinking yet, he builds on ideas from computer science and biology to show how a comprehending mind could, in fact, have arisen from a mindless process of natural selection. Part philosophical whodunit, part bold scientific conjecture, this landmark work enlarges themes that have sustained Dennett’s legendary career at the forefront of philosophical thought. In his inimitable style – laced with wit and arresting thought experiments – Dennett explains that a crucial shift occurred when humans developed the ability to share memes or ways of doing things not based on genetic instinct. Language, itself composed of memes, turbocharged this interplay. Competition among memes – a form of natural selection – produced thinking tools so well-designed that they gave us the power to design our memes. The result, a mind that not only perceives and controls but can create and comprehend, was thus largely shaped by the process of cultural evolution. An agenda-setting book for a new generation of philosophers, scientists, and thinkers, From Bacteria to Bach and Back will delight and entertain anyone eager to make sense of how the mind works and how it came about.
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Failure: Why Science Is So Successful
The general public has a glorified view of the pursuit of scientific research. However, the idealized perception of science as a rule-based, methodical system for accumulating facts could not be further from the truth. Modern science involves the idiosyncratic, often bumbling search for understanding in uncharted territories, full of wrong turns, false findings, and the occasional remarkable success.
In his sequel to Ignorance (Oxford University Press, 2012), Stuart Firestein shows us that the scientific enterprise is riddled with mistakes and errors – and that this is a good thing! Failure: Why Science Is So Successful delves into the origins of scientific research as a process that relies upon trial and error, one which inevitably results in a hefty dose of failure. In fact, scientists throughout history have relied on failure to guide their research, viewing mistakes as a necessary part of the process. Citing both historical and contemporary examples, Firestein strips away the distorted view of science as infallible to provide the public with a rare, inside glimpse of the messy realities of the scientific process.
An insider's view of how science is carried out, this book will delight anyone with interest in science, from aspiring scientists to curious general readers. Accessible and entertaining, Failure illuminates the greatest and most productive adventure of human history, with all the missteps along the way.
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Origins: The Scientific Story of Creation
What is the nature of the material world? How does it work? What is the universe and how was it formed? What is life? Where do we come from and how did we evolve? How and why do we think? What does it mean to be human? How do we know?
There are many different versions of our creation story. This book tells the version according to modern science. It is a unique account, starting at the Big Bang and travelling right up to the emergence of humans as conscious intelligent beings, 13.8 billion years later. Chapter by chapter, it sets out the current state of scientific knowledge: the origins of space and time; energy, mass, and light; galaxies, stars, and our sun; the habitable earth, and complex life itself. Drawing together the physical and biological sciences, Baggott recounts what we currently know of our history, highlighting the questions science has yet to answer.
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