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An NPR Best Book of 2022 * One of Christian Science Monitor's 10 best books of May
“This amazing new book . . . takes us on a journey through classic and contemporary philosophy powered by questions like ‘What do we have the right to do? When is it okay to do this or that?’ They explore punishment and authority and sex and gender and race and the nature of truth and knowledge and the existence of God and the meaning of life and Scott just does an incredible job.” —Ryan Holiday, The Daily Stoic
Some of the best philosophers in the world gather in surprising places—preschools and playgrounds. They debate questions about metaphysics and morality, even though they’ve never heard the words and perhaps can’t even tie their shoes. They’re kids. And as Scott Hershovitz shows in this delightful debut, they’re astoundingly good philosophers.
Hershovitz has two young sons, Rex and Hank. From the time they could talk, he noticed that they raised philosophical questions and were determined to answer them. They re-created ancient arguments. And they advanced entirely new ones. That’s not unusual, Hershovitz says. Every kid is a philosopher.
Following an agenda set by Rex and Hank, Hershovitz takes us on a fun romp through classic and contemporary philosophy, powered by questions like, Does Hank have the right to drink soda? When is it okay to swear? and, Does the number six exist? Hershovitz and his boys take on more weighty issues too. They explore punishment, authority, sex, gender, race, the nature of truth and knowledge, and the existence of God. Along the way, they get help from professional philosophers, famous and obscure. And they show that all of us have a lot to learn from listening to kids—and thinking with them.
Hershovitz calls on us to support kids in their philosophical adventures. But more than that, he challenges us to join them so that we can become better, more discerning thinkers and recapture some of the wonder kids have at the world.
Scott Hershovitz is director of the Law and Ethics Program and professor of law and philosophy at the University of Michigan. He holds a BA in philosophy and politics from the University of Georgia, a JD from Yale Law School, and a D.Phil. from the University of Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. Professor Hershovitz served as a law clerk for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the U.S. Supreme Court. He is married to Julie Kaplan, a social worker, whom he met at summer camp. They live in Ann Arbor with their two children, Rex and Hank.