Last Updated August 2005
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This guide is intended for use by all students of the London Philosophy degrees, BA, MA and its research degrees. It contains an entry for each of the papers currently available within the B.A. degree. For each of these you will find a number of general hints about studying for that particular paper, together with a number of central readings. These reading lists vary greatly in length, but no inferences should be made on this basis about the comparative difficulty of the papers. In every case these reading lists will be supplemented by others you will receive in lectures or tutorials, and there is no attempt here at comprehensive coverage.
It is based on The Philosophy Study Guide 1993-4 of UCL and The Philosophy Study Guide, 1994, 1997 and 2000 of the University of London. The initial project was conceived by Jonathan Wolff, and the document which resulted was produced by the UCL Philosophy Department in October 1993 for internal use, each member of staff, Malcolm Budd, Tim Crane, Marcus Giaquinto, Robert Heinaman, Mike Martin, Lucy O'Brien, Sarah Richmond, Jerry Valberg, Jonathan Wolff, Arnold Zuboff, contributing one or more sections.
The second, third and fourth editions of the guide were edited by Mike Martin. It is largely thanks to his vision and hard work over the years that the project grew from its modest beginnings into what it is now. With the second edition, the guide was produced by and for the University of London as a whole; thanks are due to Sebastian Gardner, Paul Helm, Christopher Janaway, M.M. McCabe, David Papineau, Richard Sorabji, and John Worrall all of whom contributed one or more extensive revisions to the guide; and to Andrew Chitty, Dorothy Edgington, Anthony Grayling, Keith Hossack, Hugh Mellor, John Milton, Sarah Patterson, Anthony Savile, Barry Smith, all of whom gave extremely helpful criticisms and made useful suggestions. Substantial revisions were added in a third edition; in that case thanks are due to Helen Beebee, Tim Crane, Sebastian Gardner, Marcus Giaquinto, Jim Hopkins, Christopher Janaway, Fraser Macbride, V�ronique Munoz-Dard�, Gerard O'Daly, David Papineau, Tom Pink, Sarah Richmond, David Hillel-Ruben, Mark Sainsbury, Michelle Salis, Robert Sharples, Martin Stone, Thomas Uebel, and Jonathan Wolff, all for advice and in most cases significant revisions of the guides; and to Tom Pink and Martin Stone in particular for the substantial revision of three of the guides. The fourth edition was a further revision and updating. In this case minimum additions and corrections were made to the guides from the third edition by various of the above mentioned. In line with alterations to the undergraduate BA degree, the guide to Philosophy of Social Science was removed; the guide to Continental Philosophy was replaced with guides to Nineteenth Century German Philosophy and Phenomenology; a guide to Indian Philosophy, kindly provided by Jonardon Ganeri was added. The most substantial revision was the proper bibliographical annotation of the entries in the various guides. This was carried out through cross-referencing with The Philosophers' Index. This gruelling and time consuming task was carried out by Matthew Nudds, to whom many thanks. Jayne Rowse and Ann Higginson provided invaluable secretarial help.
For the fifth edition of the guide, the convenor for each London BA paper has
updated his or her entry in consultation with other London colleagues. Thanks
are due to all those who have taken part in this process. In line with changes
in the BA syllabus, the Symbolic Logic entry has been replaced by two: Mathematical
Logic and Set-Theory & Further Logic. The main innovation in this edition
is not in its content, but in its format, as it is the first web-only edition
of the guide. Hard copies of the guide are now obsolete—or perhaps collector's
items. Much of the work involved in this transition has been done by Richard
Edwards, whose contribution is gratefully acknowledged. The guide is a collective
effort by the London philosophy staff. It expresses the opinions of no one person.
The rest of this page offers guidance on reading philosophy; writing essays; constructing a bibliography; avoiding plagiarism; and how to get hold of books and articles.
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At no stage in one's career is reading philosophy easy. Some people claim to read philosophy for pleasure. Wittgenstein is reported to have said that he found reading some philosophy 'a kind of agony'. Many people are inclined to agree with this. Whatever good intentions philosophers have to make their works clear, accessible, and fun to read, the result is rarely any better than more dull and dense prose with a few corny jokes. Remember that you read philosophy not for the pleasure of the moment, but for what you can come away with.
It is important, then, that you make your reading of philosophy as efficient and rewarding as possible. In order to do this you must maintain a sympathetic but critical attitude to the text. This can often be best achieved by approaching the text with a number of general questions in mind. Normally you will not have got everything you could have out of the text until you can answer the following questions.
It is very rare that you will be asked to read a piece in which the author is not arguing for or against a certain thesis or conclusion. (The conclusion might even be 'no conclusion can be reached on this topic'.) Understanding what that conclusion or thesis is will be the first and most important step in understanding the reading.
Of course, the conclusion may not seem very interesting to you, at least not at first. But, you hope, the conclusion should be interesting to its author. In what way? Does it contradict common sense? Or the view of some great philosopher of the past? Or some contemporary rival? Generally speaking, philosophers are writing to convince some people who hold a certain view. Who are those people and what is the view? Another way of thinking about this is to ask yourself why you think you have been set the reading, or why it appears on a reading list. What philosophical problem does it bear on, and how? What else that you know about does it connect with?
This is often the most difficult part. A thesis, generally, is not merely asserted, but argued for. To identify the argument is to determine what premisses or assumptions are being used, and to determine what logical inferences are being made. Philosophers are often very inexplicit about this. Certain premisses will be taken for granted and so not even mentioned. Many different arguments might be used, but not properly distinguished. Identifying the argument or arguments, then, often requires great imaginative and forensic skill, but is indispensable for a real understanding of the text.
This question is really seamless with the last. If you think that you have identified the argument, but it is flagrantly invalid, then think again. Perhaps you have misunderstood something. Many readers apply a principle of hostility to philosophical texts, thinking that it is obvious that there must be a serious mistake somewhere, all one need do is identify it. A better tactic is to apply a principle of charity instead. If the argument seems flawed try to think of ways in which it can be repaired. The task here is not one of literal interpretation of the text, but of constructing the strongest line of thought available from the text. This is where some of the best, and most creative, philosophical work is to be done.
Even with your best efforts, however, not all arguments can be rescued. The most common way of showing the invalidity of an argument is to find a counter-example. A counter-example to the argument is a case in which the premisses are true but the conclusion false. This shows that the argument is logically invalid, and the next task is to identify the particular logical mistake made.
More often, counter-examples can be attempted to the main thesis, rather than the argument. If an author claims that all F's are G, rack your brains to see if you can think of an F that is not a G. If you can, you have found a counter-example and (if it is genuine) you have refuted the thesis.
Another common defect in philosophical arguments is equivocation, where an author uses a term in more than one sense, and the argument only goes through because this ambiguity is ignored. This can be very hard (so very rewarding) to detect.
In all this, remember that the philosophically mature and responsible attitude is that understanding must precede criticism.
Even if the argument is valid in its own terms, you might still want to reject the conclusion, perhaps because you have found a counter-example to it, or because it conflicts with something else you believe. It might even contradict something else the author has said elsewhere. At this point your strategy is to examine the premisses or assumptions of the argument. Are they true, or are there counter-examples to one or more of these? Or perhaps there are other reasons for rejecting them. If the argument relies on false premisses, then it doesn't prove anything.
Sometimes philosophers are explicit about the further implications of their view. Often they are not. If not, here is your own chance for real originality.
These notes are intended to help you read philosophy. But not all you read can be approached through these questions. Sometimes philosophers present views without argument. Sometimes they present arguments apparently without views. Some philosophers think that the governing assumption of these notes, that philosophy requires arguments for conclusions, is a vulgar mistake, and real philosophy requires something else. In all such cases, following this guide to the letter will lead only to frustration. But you can still apply the spirit: approach the text in a sympathetic but critical way; try to determine why the text is thought to be philosophically interesting; try to work out how it connects with other things you know about. Don't just read: think.
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'Style is the feather in the arrow, not the feather in the cap'
Awkward writing makes the reader uncomfortable. It is ungrammatical, unclear, choppy, or just too difficult to follow. One cause of awkward writing is not using your own words. Instead, you rely on the phrases and constructions of the author you are discussing. The resulting mixture of your author's style and your own is almost always awkward. Even if you are describing someone else's views, use your own words. The most general and important cause of awkwardness, however, is simply the failure to revise. Most writers produce awkward sentences the first time around; good writers take the time to review their writing and know how to spot awkwardness and how to eliminate it. You should assume that the first draft of each sentence will have to be fixed up. Writing on a word processor may make this revision easier and less time-consuming. The best way to test for awkwardness is to read your draft out loud. Most people have a better ear than eye, and if it sounds good it will usually read well. If you do have any doubts about your ear, Strunk and White, Elements of Style is a good guide to awkwardness.
Once you understand something, it is difficult to remember what it was like not to understand it; but you have to do this to get your point across. To write effectively you must put yourself in the reader's shoes. (Pretend that your reader is a friend not in the class rather than the teacher.) The reader cannot read your mind and she hasn't just spent five hours thinking about your topic. So she needs plenty of help. Don't just make your point, explain it. Give an example. Approach it from several angles. Above all, keep your writing concrete, even in as abstract a subject as philosophy because abstract writing loses the reader. In addition to keeping your reader on board, empathy helps you to figure out what it will take to convince her that what you write is true. You already believe yourself, but your reader needs an argument. Think of yourself as selling your point of view, or as defending yourself in front of a jury.
An essay is not a list of sentences: it has structure. The structure should be obvious to the reader. Write informative introductions and conclusions. The introduction should not only introduce the topic, it should introduce your argument. That means that you should tell the reader what you are going to prove and how your are going to prove it. Unless the introduction gives the reader a clear map of the essay, she is likely to get lost. Be direct and specific. Replace sentences like 'Throughout the centuries, the greatest minds have pondered the intractable problem of free will' with 'In this essay, I will show that free will is impossible'. The conclusion of the essay should tell the reader what has been accomplished and why the struggle was worthwhile. It should remind the reader how the different moves in the body of the essay fit together to form a coherent argument.
Think of your essay as composed of a series of descriptive and argumentative moves. Each major move deserves a paragraph. Generally speaking, a paragraph should start with a transition sentence or a topic sentence. A transition sentence indicates how the paragraph follows from the previous one; a topic sentence says what the paragraph is about. Both types of sentences are really miniature maps. In the middle of a paragraph you may want to give another map, explaining how the move you are making here is connected to others you have made or will make. The order of your paragraphs is crucial. The reader should have a clear sense of development and progress as she reads. Later paragraphs should build on what has come before, and the reader should have a feeling of steady forward motion. To achieve this effect, you must make sure that your sentences hang together. Think about glue. You can get glue from maps, from transition sentences and words, and especially from the logic of your argument.
There is room for originality even when you are out to give an accurate description of someone else's position. You can be original by using your own words, your own explanations, and your own examples. Of course in a critical essay there is much more scope for original work; most of the arguments should be your own. This worries some beginning philosophy students, who think they don't know how to come up with their own arguments. Do not deceive yourself: Plato did not use up all the good and easy moves, nor do you have to be a Plato to come up with original philosophy. It is difficult to teach creativity, but here are three techniques that may help. First, make distinctions. For example, instead of talking about knowledge in general, distinguish knowledge based on what others tell you from knowledge based on your own observation. Often, once you make a good distinction, you will see a fruitful and original line of argument. Second, consider comebacks. If you make an objection to one of Plato's arguments, do not suppose that he would immediately admit defeat. Instead, make a reply on his behalf: the resulting 'dialectic' will help you with your own arguments. Lastly, play the why game. As you learned as a child, whatever someone says, you can always ask why. Play that game with your own claims. By forcing yourself to answer a few of those 'whys' you will push your own creativity. The technique of the why game suggests a more general point. Often the problem is not lack of originality; it is rather that the originality is not exploited. When you have a good point, don't throw it away in one sentence. Make the most of it: explain it, extend it, give an example, and show connections. Push your own good ideas as deep as they will go.
� Peter Lipton.
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Each piece of writing you produce should contain references to the works that you discuss or rely on. Your references should enable the reader to identify these sources with no scope for error. There are two basic approaches to references. One approach is to include full references in footnotes to the relevant passages of the text. The other is to include a bibliography at the end of the text with full references and to refer to these items in the relevant passages of the text using some systematic convention. You should use the second of these approaches (bibliography and in-text references) for your academic work.
There are many different systems in use for formating bibliographies and in-text references. They are all in principle equally valid, provided that they are consistent and that they include all the necessary information in an easily recognisable form. You should feel free to use any of the standard systems. Here is a description of one of the most widely used systems.
For a bibliography of works referred to, set them out in alphabetical order (by author's surname). Where more than one work by an author is listed, order them chronologically. The year of publication is cited immediately after the author's name. If there is more than one work by the same author in the same year, use 'a', 'b', 'c', etc. at the end of the year to differentiate them. Titles of books and journals should be in italics; titles of articles should be in single quotation marks. Place of publication and publisher should be included (for books) as should page numbers of articles in journals. The main types of entry are formated as follows:
Craig, E. 1982. 'Meaning, Use & Privacy'. Mind 91: 541-564.
I.e. Author's surname [comma] author's initials [with full stops] year of publication [full stop] article title in single quotes [full stop] journal title in italics followed by volume number [colon] page numbers.
Quine, W. V. 1960. Word & Object. Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press.
I.e. Author's surname [comma] author's initials [with full stops] year of publication [full stop] book title in italics [full stop] place of publication [colon] publisher.
Editors, translators and edition can also be indicated after the book title, where relevant.
Lepore, E. ed. 1986. Truth & Interpretation: Perspectives on the Philosophy of Donald Davidson. Oxford: Blackwell.
I.e. like authored books, adding 'ed.' after editor's name and initials (or 'eds.' if there's more than one).
Quine, W. V. 1975. 'Mind & Verbal Dispositions'. In S. Guttenplan, ed. Mind & Language. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
I.e. Author's surname [comma] author's initials [with full stops] year of publication [full stop] article title in single quotes [full stop] [In] Editor's initials [full stop] editor's surname [comma] [ed. or eds., if more than one] book title in italics [full stop] place of publication [colon] publisher.
If the article had already been published prior to the collection you are citing, replace 'In' with 'Reprinted in'.
References within the text to a work take the following form: (Quine 1960, p. 20). If it is clear from the context which author is being discussed, the reference can be abbreviated to (1960, p. 20); if it is also clear which work is discussed, all that is needed is the page reference (p. 20).
There has been much recent philosophical discussion of the emotions (Oakley 1992; Taylor 1985). Philosophers have attempted to provide characterisations of the type of mental entity that emotions are; in addition, they have offered analyses of particular emotions, such as love, jealousy, pride and fear. Gabriele Taylor has made a study of the 'emotions of self assessment', which include pride, shame and guilt (1985). In her study she takes issue with Davidson's (1976) well-known cognitive theory of pride. She rejects Davidson's account for its insistence on 'a form of rationality... which is not necessary for an understanding... of the emotional experience in question' (Taylor 1985, p. 5).
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Any work guilty of plagiarism will lead to a failing grade on that paper, and likely disqualification by the University. To avoid this possibility please bear in mind when presubmitting work:
1. Direct quotations should be in quotation marks, with reference to the source, including page numbers.
2. Indirect/paraphrased quotations and borrowed ideas should be acknowledged by means of a reference.
3. A full bibliography of work consulted and used should be appended to the essay.
Below is attached an example of what is, and what is not, plagiarism, prepared by Richard Dennis of the Geography Department at UCL. If you are concerned about this in your own work, please discuss the matter with your tutor or Departmental Tutor.
1. The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles. Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other: Bourgeoisie and Proletariat. Masses of labourers, crowded into the factory, are organised like soldiers. Not only are they slaves of the bourgeois class, and of the bourgeois State; they are daily and hourly enslaved by the machine, by the overlooker, and, above all, by the individual bourgeois manufacturer himself. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win.
THIS IS PLAGIARISM. THERE IS NO ATTEMPT TO INDICATE THAT THESE ARE NOT RICHARD DENNIS'S OWN THOUGHTS BUT ARE WORDS TAKEN DIRECT FROM DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE COMMUNIST MANIFESTO.
2. Marx and Engels noted that the history of all hitherto existing society had been the history of class struggles. Society as a whole was more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other: Bourgeoisie and Proletariat. They observed that proletarians had nothing to lose but their chains. They had a world to win.
THIS IS STILL PLAGIARISM. ALTHOUGH THE IDEAS ARE ATTRIBUTED TO MARX AND ENGELS, THERE IS NO INDICATION THAT THE FORM OF WORDS IS NOT RICHARD DENNIS'S. JUST CHANGING IT INTO THE PAST TENSE DOESN'T MAKE IT ORIGINAL.
3. In The Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels (1973 edn., p. 40) noted that 'The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles'. They argued that society was 'more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other: Bourgeoisie and Proletariat' (p. 41). 'Masses of labourers, crowded into the factory' were 'organised like soldiers ... slaves of the bourgeois class, and of the bourgeois State' (p. 52). They concluded that 'The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win' (p. 96).
THIS IS NOT PLAGIARISM, BUT IF ALL YOUR ESSAY CONSISTS OF IS A SET OF QUOTATIONS STITCHED TOGETHER, IT DOESN'T SUGGEST THAT YOU HAVE THOUGHT ABOUT OR UNDERSTOOD THE CONTENTS OF THE QUOTATIONS. SO RICHARD DENNIS WOULDN'T EARN VERY MANY MARKS FROM ME FOR THIS EFFORT!
4. In one of the most famous first sentences ever written, Marx and Engels (1973 edn., p 40) began The Communist Manifesto thus: 'The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.' They went on to exemplify this claim by showing how the structure of society had, in their view, developed into two interdependent but antagonistic classes: bourgeoisie and proletariat. The latter comprised factory operatives, who had been reduced to no more than slave labour; but as they became concentrated geographically, in the great factory towns of the industrial revolution, so they had the opportunity to organise themselves politically. Hence, the authors' conclusion that a communist revolution was not only desirable, but possible, leading them to issue their equally famous final exhortation (p. 96): 'WORKING MEN OF ALL COUNTRIES, UNITE!'
THIS MAY NOT BE A VERY PROFOUND COMMENTARY, BUT AT LEAST I'VE TRIED!
� Richard Dennis 1989
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One of the most noticeable trends in Philosophy publishing in recent years is the proliferation of books aimed directly at students. This is, of course, driven by thought that if a book gets on an 'essential purchase' list then it will make quite a lot of money for the publisher, but it does mean that publishers have started to do more to produce philosophy books that are both readable and useful, which once looked like an endangered species.
For the most part these books have been produced in series, with the idea that books in the same series should have been written at the same level and in the same style, so one always knows what one is getting. Inevitably, though, there will be variations in quality. Many of these books are recommended at various places in this Study Guide. Look out for:
Routledge Arguments of The Philosophers. This is a series of monographs on individual philosophers (or close-linked schools) in most cases trying to cover the entire range of the philosopher's work. The series is almost complete, and most of the major figures in the canon are covered. The books are generally of a very high standard.
Oxford Readings in Philosophy. Another older series, in which a dozen or so major papers in an area are reprinted, with an Introduction by the editor. The series began in the 1960's, and many but not all of the earliest volumes are now out of print. In general the more recent volumes are narrower in focus than the earlier ones, and as a whole the series is very highly recommended as a guide to some of the most influential papers in analytic philosophy.
The Blackwell Philosopher Dictionaries. These books take key terms from a particular thinker and explain them. So if you want to know what Hobbes meant by 'covenant' or Descartes by 'substance' look at the Hobbes Dictionary or the Descartes Dictionary respectively. They are not meant to be read as continuous works, but can provide excellent background material.
Cambridge Companions. These are multi-authored collections, with about 15 essays on different aspects of a particular philosophers work, together with biographical and bibliographical information. Coverage is very wide and the series will probably be complete soon. Generally they are edited to a very high standard, and are reliable and informative.
Blackwell Companions to Philosophy. These take a particular subject area (Ethics, Philosophy of Mind, etc.) and provide a large number of articles on varying areas and sub-areas within the field. These vary substantially in format, and in some cases in the quality of the entry within a volume. However they can be a great deal of help. The volume entitled The Blackwell Companion to Philosophy, edd. Nicholas Bunnin and E.P. Tsui-James, contains entries both on areas of philosophy which broadly coincide with finals papers, and on particular Philosophers. If you still have to rely on this when you get to finals then you are in trouble, but it provides excellent introductions to areas and thinkers, and should help guide choice of finals options.
Routledge Philosophy GuideBooks. A fairly new series aimed at providing clear and reliable commentaries on the major works in the western tradition.
Philosophy: A Guide Through The Subject (vol. 1) and Philosophy: Further Through the Subject (vol. 2) ed. A. Grayling. Not really a series. Volume 1 is sometimes called 'The Yellow Pages'. The book was written expressly as a multi-authored textbook for people studying for the London External BA, which bears a striking resemblance to the Internal BA, so the book will be particularly useful to students of Philosophy in London. Volume 1 covers the compulsory papers and some options, and Volume 2 most of the remaining options. It aims to be introductory, but not all contributions have achieved this: some will not be easily understood by first and second year students. However all the articles are extremely valuable and close study will be rewarded. Those particularly recommended are mentioned throughout this Study Guide.
The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ed. P. Edwards. Eight Volumes. This was for a long time the standard Encyclopedia of Philosophy, and should be in all major libraries. The great majority of individuals who own it took it as their introductory offer to an American book club. It is fine piece of work, although as it is now 30 years old it records the subject as it was, rather than as it is. Nevertheless many of the entries are still very much worth reading.
The Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ed. E. Craig. This is ten volumes long and is intended to replace Edwards as the standard work. The work is also available on CD-ROM, so some universities may have it networked, and there is now a web-based edition. Routledge have recently published a concise edition, though this will be a lot less useful.
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Looking for books can be time-consuming and frustrating. All the philosophy journals you will need are stocked in College libraries and in Senate House; copies of the major journals are also available from departmental libraries. Many of the books you will need will be in heavy demand so it is important that you are able to explore several possibilities in trying to find a book. Sometimes you may need or wish to buy a book rather than borrow it from the library. The list of shops below includes those which deal in second-hand copies.
The manner in which one can gain access to reading material has altered radically over the period since this guide was first produced, and may well change beyond recognition before the next edition. It still remains the case that first port of call for both journals and books will be the college or University library, and as ever getting hold of the book or journal issue desired can be a time-consuming and frustrating business. However, access to journals and means of purchasing new and second hand books has been changed entirely by the continuing expansion of the World Wide Web. First, most of you will have access to online library catalogues throughout the world-these offer a way of determining the complete publishing details of hard to find volumes or journals. Second, many of you will have access on line to the Philosophers' Index or other such bibliographical aids which enable you to search for relevant material on any subject. Third, and perhaps most useful, there are various online stores of humanities journals which are accessible if one's college or university pays the appropriate subscription.
As physical bookstores decline and for the chains become extended coffee shops and for the specialist and second-hand dealer simply become non-existent, the web becomes yet more essential for tracking down your own copy of something. Various web sites enable you to compare prices for new books—in the UK no VAT is levied on books, so you can import from other countries without fear of surcharge. This web has taken serendipity out of hunting for rare second hand editions, but in its place you now can survey the globe to find long out of print items.
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The main bibliographic resource in philosophy is the Philosophers' Index. This is published every quarter with listings of most English language philosophy publications, as well as many in other languages, going back to 1940. It includes bibliographical details and abstracts. Colleges often provide electronic access to this. It is also available through the Senate House Library web site. The electronic version is fully searchable, and contains links to electronic copies of articles, where available.
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There is a College Library with a Philosophy collection at each of the colleges. In addition, Senate House lodges the University of London Library which has a fairly comprehensive collection of philosophy books and periodicals. Some of the departments also possess a departmental library but this is normally of very limited stock. In general, undergraduates will only have limited access to libraries at other colleges, with the possibility of using them for reference but not for borrowing. Post-graduate students are often able to join a library at another college with a letter from their supervisor. All departmental libraries are restricted to the members of the respective colleges.
Each department is anxious to make library provision as effective as possible. To do this, we need to know of any difficulties. In particular, it is important to find out if there are books regularly assigned by tutors not available in any of the University of London libraries. Students are encouraged to let their department know of any deficiency in their College or Departmental Library or in Senate House.
Note that Inter-Library loans are possible. If a student cannot otherwise obtain a book, the book can be borrowed from another library in the British Isles Library System, by filling in a form at the Main Issue Desk. (This does, of course, take rather a long time.)
Most major library catalogues are now available on the web. Go to the links page of this guide to access some of them.
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Probably the easiest way of getting a copy of a journal article nowadays is through the web. Several sites enable you to print or download PDF copies of journal articles. Access to these sites is by subscription. Typically you will be able to access them directly from college and University computers. To access them from elsewhere you will need to obtain an Athens username and password from your college library. With these, you'll be able to access these sites following the 'Athens Autentication' link. Some of these sites can now also be accessed through the Senate House Library web site using your name and library card number.
The main journal-article sites for philosophy include:
JSTOR. It includes many major philosophy journals. It doesn't provide issues appeared in the last four or five years, but it goes back to the first issues.
INGENTA and SWETSWISE. Commercial stores with many philosophy journals. They only offer issues appeared in the last 7 or 8 years.
Blackwell-Synergy. It includes the numerous philosophy journals published by Blackwell. Only the issues for the last 7 or 8 years.
POIESIS. A philosophy-specific site including many journals. Only accessible from computers on a college or University network.
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ULU run regular book fairs which are well-advertised, and are a good source for textbooks.
Skoob Books, 10 Brunswick Centre, has an extensive selection of second-hand philosophy books, from review copies of recent volumes to the truly bizarre. 10% discount for all students with a student card.
Unsworths, 101 Euston Road (opposite the British Library), offers an interesting and varied selection of philosophy books.
Waterstone's, 82 Gower St. has a large philosophy section in its second-hand department on the first floor.
Judd Books. 182 Marchmont Street. Another useful selection of second-hand and remaindered books.
Bloomsbury Books, 12 Bury Place. This has quite a large selection of philosophy, but it is also somewhat more expensive than some of the alternatives.
If you feel you have a lot of time to waste, the various second-hand bookshops on Charing Cross Rd. stock the odd philosophy book, almost by accident.
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For when a book is too new, too popular or too obscure to turn up in the second-hand bookshops, or for when you are feeling particularly flush:
Waterstone's, 82 Gower St, 3rd floor, still the main academic bookshop in London. Also look at their branch in Charing Cross Rd., first floor, a reasonable selection, particularly for continental philosophy, & some interesting oddities.
Blackwell's Book Shop, 100 Charing Cross Road Nowhere near as large or comprehensive as the original Oxford store, but still has a reasonable selection.
Borders, 203-207 Oxford Street, 1st floor, has a more than reasonable, if slightly cramped, selection of philosophy books.
W. & G. Foyle, 119 Charing Cross Rd. 3rd floor, a similar selection of philosophy books to Waterstone's, although notably fewer, organised by author.
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If you wish to travel in search of books (dedication indeed), the best selection of philosophy books for sale can be found at:
B.H. Blackwell's, 50 Broad St. Oxford, basement, this has a comprehensive selection of philosophy books in print, and a substantial, but expensive selection of second-hand books.
Heffer's, Cambridge, basement, less comprehensive than Blackwell's in Oxford (and now owned by them) but still useful.
Galloway & Porter, Cambridge, first floor, a good selection of second-hand & remaindered philosophy books.
Great Expectations, 2071 Foster St, Evanston, Illinois, USA; tel: (708) 864 3881, possibly the largest selection of new philosophy books, in and out of print. If you cannot manage to hop a ride on the El. you can write to or phone them and place an order, packaging and airmail are only a slight addition to the American price of books which is still marginally lower than the UK price.
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Buying books on the web has many advantages. Searching is easy, delivery is often fast and prices are sometimes seriously discounted. There is a huge number of online bookstores. Perhaps the most established ones with large academic book stocks are Amazon and Blackwell's. However, many others are also worth a look. Perhaps the best approach is to use a price-comparison site, such as BookPrice24 or BookFinder4U.
For second-hand books, the main web store is Abebooks. Amazon also sells second-hand books.
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