I’m in deep summer mode now, so blogging will be light for a while. Someone asked for this though, so here it is – a list of the books that have had the most influence on the way that I see things (or that deeply changed the way I see things, or that in some other way blew my tiny mind). I’m excluding the classics here, focusing just on books published post-WWII:
1. Jürgen Habermas, Legitimation Crisis
2. Jürgen Habermas, The Theory of Communicative Action
3. Talcott Parsons, The Social System
4. David Gauthier, Morals by Agreement
5. John Roemer, A General Theory of Exploitation and Class
6. Robert Brandom, Making it Explicit
7. Robert Boyd and Peter Richerson, Culture and the Evolutionary Process
8. François Éwald, L’état providence
9. Thomas Frank, The Conquest of Cool
10. George Ainslie, Picoeconomics
These are also roughly chronological, in the order that I read them. I often feel that my own philosophical views are just the sum of what I’ve read, and that anyone who has read these 10 books should be able to guess what I’m going to say on pretty much any question. Luckily for my brand, there seems to be no one else in the world who has read all 10 of these books.
By the way, I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone as a summer reading list or anything, since there aren’t very many “easy” books on the list. Some of them I spent literally years studying (or reading the secondary literature necessary to properly understand them). So while I would happily recommend reading any and all of them, I wouldn’t want to put this out there as some sort of reasonable expectation for non-academics.
(Finally, if I were to add classics to the list, it would be Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, Kant, Critique of Practical Reason, Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, and Hobbes, Leviathan.)