Big Questions

Big Questions

Tackling the Problems of Philosophy with Ideas from Mathematics, Economics, and Physics

By Steven E. Landsburg

Free Press, Paperback, 9781439148228, 288pp.

Publication Date: October 19, 2010


In the wake of his enormously popular books The Armchair Economist and More Sex Is Safer Sex, Slate columnist and economics professor Steven Landsburg employs concepts from mathematics, economics, and physics in this sprightly tour of the deepest problems in philosophy: What is real? What can we know? Why is there something instead of nothing? And how should we live?

Beginning with the broadest philosophical issues—theories of existence, knowledge, and ethics—Landsburg then turns to a dazzling variety of specific applications. He gives us a mathematical analysis for arguments for the existence of God; explains the real meanings of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle and Gödel’s incompleteness theorem; and carefully dissects the meaning of social responsibility on the playground, in the marketplace, and in the voting booth.

Stimulating, illuminating, and always surprising, The Big Questions reveals the relationship between the loftiest philosophical quests and our everyday lives.

About the Author
Steven E. Landsburg is a Professor of Economics at the University of Rochester. He is the author of "The Armchair Economist, Fair Play, More Sex is Safer Sex, The Big Questions, " two textbooks in economics, a forthcoming textbook on general relativity and cosmology, and over 30 journal articles in mathematics, economics and philosophy. His current research is in the area of quantum game theory. He blogs daily at For over ten years, he wrote the monthly "Everyday Economics" column in "Slate" magazine, and has written regularly for "Forbes" and occasionally for the "New York Times", the "Wall Street Journal "and the "Washington Post". He appeared as a commentator on the PBS/Turner Broadcasting series "Damn Right," and has made over 200 appearances on radio and television broadcasts over the past few years.