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Background Reading

General Scholarly Encyclopedias:

Scholarly encyclopedias can provide useful background information as well as biobliographies of key sources.

The Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Detroit: Macmillan Reference, 2005), 10 volumes. Call number: B51.E53,  level B2 of the library. Comprehensive, accessible, and high quality; also in Gale Virtual Reference Library (see below). T

Gale Virtual Reference Library. Combines hundreds of scholarly encyclopedias from all disciplines; philosophy is well represented; includes The Encyclopedia of Philosophy and the excellent Encyclopedia of Bioethics, 3rd ed. (New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 2004).

The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Comprehensive. Less technical than the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (see below).

The Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy (London and New York: Routledge, 1998), 10 volumes. Call number: B51.R68, level B2 in the library. Comprehensive and high quality; somewhat more technical than The Encyclopedia of Philosophy above.

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. The foremost online encyclopedia of philosophy; articles tend to be more technical than The Encyclopedia of Philosophy or The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

World Philosophers and Their Works (Pasedena and Hackensack, Salem Press: 2000), 3 volumes. Call number: B104.W67, level B2 of the library. Brief summaries of the views of leading philosophers and their prominent works

Specialized Encyclopedias:

Encyclopedia of Aesthetics (New York and Oxford, Oxford University Press: 1998), 4 volumes. Level B2 of the library. Call number BH56.E53. Also available online through Onesearch

Encyclopedia of Applied Ethics (San Diego: Academic Press, 1998), 4 volumes, Level B2 of the library. Call number BJ63.E44.

Encyclopedia of Bioethics, 3rd ed. (New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 2004). High quality, five volume set. Covers all issues in bioethics accessibly but with a fair degree of rigor. Available from One Search ( and in Gale Virtual Reference Library (see above under General Scholarly Encyclopedias).

Encyclopedia of Concise Concepts by Women Philosophers. From the Internet Scout Report: Provides a comprehensive overview of important concepts and ideas developed by women philosophers. Visitors can explore entries organized by "Concepts" originated or advanced by a woman philosopher (e.g., justice, religious freedom); philosophical "Keywords" (e.g., good life, positivism); "Philosophers" who have typically been omitted from the canon of philosophy (e.g., Anne Bradstreet, Ban Zhao); and "Contributors" whose scholarship and expertise has kept the works of these women philosophers alive.

Encyclopedia of Ethics (New York and London, Garland: 1992), 2 volumes. Level B2 of the library. Call number: BJ 63.E45.
Encyclopedia of the Enlightenment (New York and Oxford, Oxford University Press: 2003), 4 volumes. Encyclopedia of the Enlightenment. Call number: B802.E53. Also available online through Onesearch

Ethics, Revised Edition (Pasedena and Hackensack, Salem Press, 2005), 3 volumes. Ethics. Call number: BJ63.E54. Level B2 of the library.

The Routledge Companion to Aesthetics (London: Routledge, 2002). Call number: BH21 .R68 2002. Covers the history of aesthetics, theories of art and beauty, and issues like fakes and forgeries, and high vs. low art.

The Routledge Companion to Ancient Philosophy (New York: Routledge, 2014). Call number B165.R68 2014. Covers Greek and Roman thought from the 6th century BCE through the 6th century CE.

The Routledge Companion to Epistemology (New York: Routledge, 2014). Call number: BD161 .R69 2014. Covers the main areas in epistemology (i.e. the philosophy of knowledge), including key thinkers, movements, and issues such as skepticism, truth, perception, and trust. Entries are written by leaders in the field.

The Routledge Companion to Metaphysics (London and New York: Routledge, 2009). Call number BD111.R68 2009.  Covers the major themes, thinkers, and issues in metaphysics (i.e. the philosophical study of the fundamental nature of reality), including ontology, causation and vagueness.  

Dictionaries and Handbooks: These sources offer shorter entries than the encyclopedias listed above.

The sources below provide definitions and short discussions of key philosophical concepts.

The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, Second Edition (Cambridge and New York: 1999). Level B2 of the library. Call number: B41.C35. Also available online through Onesearch.

Credo Reference

The Oxford Companion to the Mind. (Oxford, Oxford Univeristy Press, 2005). Call number: BF31.O92. Level B2 of the library. Also available online through Onesearch.

The Oxford Companion to Philosophy. (Oxford, Oxford Univeristy Press, 2005). Call number B51.O94. Level B2 of the library. Also available online through Onesearch.

Other useful source:

Cambridge Companion series. Collections of expert essays on leading philosophers. Print only