As anyone who's scoured Oxford Street looking for any good quality, plain item of clothing will know, the simple things in life are often the most elusive. It is thus by no means a back-handed compliment to say that Nigel Warburton's Philosophy: the basics is a good, plain and simple guide to the subject of the highest order. There's nothing fancy about this book but it certainly delivers.
The seven chapters cover seven major themes of western philosophy: God; right and wrong; politics; the external world; science; ind; and art. It sets out key positions and arguments, and considers objections.
Generous use of subheadings ensures that text remains punchy, to the point and well sign-posted. There are suggestions for further reading and an insightful introduction on what philosophy is and why one should study it.
Getting the architecture right, however, would be useless if the rooms were not well furnished. Fortunately, Warburton hits that spot too. His selection of material is spot-on and the writing is concise, clear and never dry.
Julian Baggini is editor of the Philosophers' Magazine