Thomas Nagel is University Professor Emeritus at NYU. His latest book is Mind and Cosmos. (September 2016)

IN THE REVIEW

How They Wrestled with the New

The Dream of Enlightenment: The Rise of Modern Philosophy

by Anthony Gottlieb
Descartes, Hobbes, Spinoza, Locke, Leibniz, and Hume lived in a historical period dominated by dramatic developments and conflicts in three areas—science, religion, and politics—and their thoughts and writings were dominated by the need to respond to those developments, and to understand the relations among them.

Listening to Reason

Being Realistic about Reasons

by T.M. Scanlon
Edward Gorey Charitable Trust Philosophy has always been concerned with the largest questions of what exists and what is the case. Not specific questions like “Is there extraterrestrial life?” or “What is the speed of light in a vacuum?” but maximally general questions about what kinds of things …

After You’ve Gone

Caspar David Friedrich: Chalk Cliffs in Ruegen, 1818–1819

Death and the Afterlife

by Samuel Scheffler, edited and with an introduction by Niko Kolodny, and with commentaries by Susan Wolf, Harry G. Frankfurt, Seana Valentine Shiffrin, and Niko Kolodny
We are all going to die, and the world will go on without us. In this highly original book Samuel Scheffler explores the powerful but often unnoticeable ways in which these obvious facts affect the values that govern our lives and the motives that shape them. The afterlife referred to …

Ronald Dworkin: The Moral Quest

Ronald Dworkin, Martha’s Vineyard, August 2005

Ronald Dworkin

by Stephen Guest
Ronald Dworkin, who died on February 14 of this year, began to contribute to The New York Review of Books in 1968. His strong opinions and lucid prose helped to give the paper its distinctive tone, and he achieved through those writings on the law and politics of our time …

The Taste for Being Moral

Raphael: The Judgment of Solomon, circa 1518–1519

The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion

by Jonathan Haidt

Dignity: Its History and Meaning

by Michael Rosen
Human beings want to understand themselves, and in our time such understanding is pursued on a wide front by the biological, psychological, and social sciences. One of the questions presented by these forms of self-understanding is how to connect them with the actual lives all of us continue to lead, using the faculties and engaging in the activities and relations that are described by scientific theories. An important example is the universal human phenomenon of morality.