What Should I Believe?
Philosophical Essays for Critical Thinking
  • Publication Date: May 27, 2011
  • ISBN: 9781554810130 / 1554810132
  • 232 pages; 9" x 6"

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What Should I Believe?

Philosophical Essays for Critical Thinking

  • Publication Date: May 27, 2011
  • ISBN: 9781554810130 / 1554810132
  • 232 pages; 9" x 6"

This book is unique in its treatment of critical thinking not as a body of knowledge but instead as a subject for critical reflection. The purpose of the anthology is to turn critical thinking classes into invitations to philosophical conversations. The collection introduces students to difficult philosophical questions that surround critical thinking, moving away from dogmatism and towards philosophical dialogue. In developing these discussions, the anthology introduces students to issues in the philosophy of science, epistemology, and philosophy of religion. Selections include works by Charles S. Peirce, Stephen Jay Gould, Elizabeth Anscombe, and Richard Dawkins.


What Should I Believe? is an excellent little volume that takes its title question seriously and tries to answer with both prudential and normative meanings. Gomberg (Chicago State Univ.) has assembled a worthy set of essays to answer this question, ranging from the classic essays of Peirce, Clifford, and James to his own sincere efforts to guide students in their understanding of belief.” — S.C. Schwarze, Cabrini College in CHOICE Volume 49.8, April 2012

“This is a wonderful selection of readings for a course in Critical Thinking, as well as wonderful reading for anyone who wonders what critical thinking about difficult and controversial topics consists in—a question that concerns all of us as citizens and as human beings.” — Hilary Putnam, Cogan University Professor Emeritus, Harvard University

“This is an exciting, pathbreaking anthology. In taking critical thinking itself as a topic for philosophical reflection, What Should I Believe? moves us on from John Dewey’s famous How We Think. Gomberg’s insightful commentary molds these essays into a new framework for thinking about society, science, religion—and indeed about the very character of belief. This is a fresh approach to “critical thinking” both for the classroom and for our lives.” — Arthur Fine, University of Washington



To the Instructor:
Making Critical Thinking Classes More Philosophical


The Philosophical Problems Raised by Critical Thinking


Two Defenses of Critical Belief


From “The Fixation of Belief,” Charles S. Peirce
From “The Ethics of Belief,” William K. Clifford


Uncertainty and Scrutiny in Science

Miracles and Scientific Research, Paul Gomberg
From “The Origin of Life on Earth,” Neil deGrasse Tyson and Donald Goldsmith
From “Sex, Drugs, Disasters, and the Extinction of Dinosaurs,”
Stephen Jay Gould
Are We Related to Other Life? Paul Gomberg
From “The Perplexing Case of the Female Orgasm,”
Elisabeth Lloyd with Natasha Mitchell
“The Health of Black Folk: Disease, Class, and Ideology in Science,”
Nancy Krieger and Mary Bassett
From Against Method, Paul Feyerabend

Why Do We Believe Others?

From “Of Miracles,” David Hume
From “The Ethics of Belief,” William K. Clifford
From “The Epistemology of Testimony,” Nicholas Wolterstorff
From “What Is It to Believe Someone?” Elizabeth Anscombe
Trust and Modesty in Belief and Knowledge, Paul Gomberg

Religious Beliefs and Critical Scrutiny

From “A Scientist’s Case against God,” Richard Dawkins
From “The Will to Believe,” William James
“Clifford’s Principle and James’s Options,” Richard Feldman
Believing Can Be Right or Wrong, Allen Wood
From “Wittgenstein on Religious Belief,” Hilary Putnam

What Should I Believe?


Paul Gomberg is Professor of Philosophy at Chicago State University.