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Philosophy Tool Kit

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Philosophy Tool Kit

Thinking like a philosopher need not be a strange and arcane art, if you get started with these tricks of the trade.


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Let the great philosophers improve your problem-solving skills.

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Philosophy may seem abstract and removed from everyday life, but the discipline offers “argumentative strategies” that anyone can use to sharpen their thinking. In an essay in the digital magazine Aeon, philosophy professor Alan Hájek outlines the “tricks of the trade.” Unfortunately, the examples he uses to demonstrate the different philosophical tools remain highly philosophical – such as questions about the existence of God. However, the essay should succeed at reminding you of the way the great thinkers of Western philosophy approached the big – questions – and how the same methods can help you clarify your thinking on any topic of concern. getAbstract recommends Hájek’s essay to anybody interested in learning how to reason like a pro. 


Philosophy provides several exploratory problem-solving tools that nonphilosophers can use in everyday life to think through a problem or to question an assumption. Although philosophical heuristics are no “shortcuts” to profound wisdom, philosophers often use these techniques to achieve deeper insights – and so can you.

“Contrastive stress” is the technique of emphasizing a word in a sentence contrary to its normal accentuation to change the meaning of the sentence. This allows you to determine causation. On the surface, the sentence “smoking a pack...

About the Author

Alan Hájek is a philosophy professor at the Australian National University in Canberra.

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