A Theory of Jerks and Other Philosophical Misadventures

by Eric Schwitzgebel


Self-admittedly a collection of Schwitzgebel's blog posts, not arranged chronologically or even all that topically. Not only can you basically read this book for free online (as with most books you're likely to have heard of), but the version of it online is much larger and more interactive. So while I would recommend this book as light, fun, futurist moral philosophy, really that's just a secondhand way of recommending you read Schwitzgebel's blog.

The essays in the book are predominantly moral philosophy, approaching ethics in a pragmatic manner that draws from established systems where appropriate but mostly just follows ethical intuitions until they stop making sense. There is a secondary theme of what you might consider epistemology, which intersects with this moral horizon. Topics I found particularly interesting:

Schwitzgebel is fun to read, evidently attracted to the sort of weird limits I also like, such as where materialist premises take you to conclusions about reality that are very far removed from 'common sense'. As a philosopher engaging with the public, he puts up a good fight for making his subject not just the weird and abstract, but also the sort of musing that everyone should be able to relate to. I didn't come away with any great moral shift from reading Schwitzgebel, but that's neither what I wanted or really what I think he intended. He wanted to show off some wondrous ideas and, while I have seen some of them before, he definitely managed that.