General Discussion: Introduction to Philosophy

I have some exciting news! We have just published the first volume in this series: Introduction to Philosophy: Philosophy of Mind!

Here is the release announcement on the Rebus blog.

It has been a fantastic effort by many people to get this book published, including by the book editor @heathersalazarom, all of the chapter authors, the cover designer Jonathan Lashley (with cover art by book editor Heather Salazar), our copy editor @metatechne, and @xolotl, who put the content into Pressbooks and helped a lot with formatting.

I want to thank all of them, plus @apurva and @zoe for their help throughout the project, and @LeighKP for helping with publicizing calls for submissions and the book itself.

Please share widely!


I didn’t know @heathersalazarom did the cover art. It’s beautiful!


I just got a blog post about this series published at the American Philosophical Association Blog! It describes some of the motivation behind the series as well as a bit about the process.


Update! We recently published the Ethics book in this series, which follows the first book, Philosophy of Mind. We’re excited to see the books starting to be published! Logic and Philosophy of Religion are not too far behind.


I have a general question about making an OER book that will be in PDF format. What would be wrong with matching the PDF thumbnail numbers with the page-numbers-on-the-page numbers?

For example, I am using the Introductory to Philosophy: Ethics textbook for my ethics class this semester. Chapter 5, “Utilitarianism”, starts on page 45 of the text (bottom right of the page). But the PDF thumbnail is 61. Why not just make the page number of the text 61?

So the INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK would be page 17 instead of 1. That may seem a bit prima facie odd, but you gain clarity and usability. For example, when I tell my students, “it’s on page 20”, they can just use the thumbnails and get to thumbnail 20 which is page 20.

Obviously this doesn’t apply to EPUB, but it seems to me that it might be the way to go for PDF. Thoughts anyone?

Thank you for the question here. The pagination of the book is done automatically by Pressbooks, such that the “front matter” (which includes everything before the introduction) is paginated with roman numerals, and the arabic numerals start with the introduction.

This may be something that could be overridden, but I think it follows general practice for book publishing. I’ll ask @apurva for her thoughts on this question!

(Apology for my very belated reply…I have gotten behind on following along with the discussion on these threads, which I’m working to remedy and plan to keep up more diligently!)

@therrnstein - I see how it can be more straightforward for the page numbers (on the page) to correspond to the PDF thumbnails. As Christina noted, Pressbooks automatically paginates books using the publishing industry standard of roman numerals for fronmatter sections, switching to arabic numbers for the “main body” of the book. This is very common with printed academic/scholarly or even trade books (fiction/non-fiction), and in fact is one of the rules of the Chicago Manual of Style (which is the style guide that this series follows). I believe this is done mainly to assure easier addition of front matter without affecting the body text too much, and back matter items like an index where pagination is critical.

Christina, if you’d like, we can probably control the display of these numbers using Custom CSS. Let me know how you’d like to proceed!

Thank you for the detailed replies. My concern is the ease of use and not causing confusion in the class with what we are all supposed to read. Last semester I listed both pages on the daily reading list, such as, “44-50 (pdf pages 60-66)”. What is a better way to do it? The obvious answer is to stick to pages numbers only and tell them to ignore what PDF page it is; however, people do not listen nor follow directions, so every semester you have to go through the confusion and train them to ignore the PDF pages. Perhaps not that big of a deal, and this is the answer. How do you do it?

Also, how do you accommodate students who are using an EPUB version in the same class as others using a PDF version – what do you do then?

All good questions — I don’t teach these courses myself, but Christina and George do, so I’m curious to learn what their approaches have been. @christina.hendricks, @geoslack

An initial thought is whether you can indicate the Chapter information in the syllabus, rather than page number, but of course this works if students are expected to read a full chapter within a week. The chapters are typically hyperlinked from the table of contents in all the digital versions, so it should be fairly easy to navigate to. (As an aside: Learning to navigate to the assigned reading/ chapter for that week may help them hone their discovery and research skills too, as students may encounter secondary sources in different formats.)

I think it’s also worth informing students that this is an OER, and may be different from traditional textbooks they use — see the How to Access and Use the Book section. They have the option to read the book in multiple formats and devices, both print and digital, which means that things like page numbers aren’t static in the way they might be with a physical book. The variety here is to ensure that they can use the format that supports their learning style and preferences the best.

I imagine the other instructors will have more concrete tips for you! :smiley:

Hi @therrnstein, these are very good questions. When I teach with online or digital resources such as PDFs or epubs I run into the same issue. I don’t think there’s a perfect way to solve it. If students are mostly using the digital PDF, then using both page numbers as you have done can work (though as you note, this can still be confusing. Or one could ask them to search in the digital work for a phrase (e.g., I chose “virtuous character” to search in the ethics book), and depending on the phrase, it may take them right to it. Note that for some platforms one may have to use quotation marks around the whole phrase or else it will find pages that have “virtuous” and “character” (e.g.) separately.

Depending on the work one can also use landmarks like chapter numbers and section headers; students could scroll to the section or search for the section title as a phrase as above. For online resources on web pages that’s what I usually resort to–students have to try to find the right section, and sometimes I’ll even say “start with the sentence that begins…”. It’s not ideal but sometimes that’s all that’s possible, depending on the resource!

For the digital PDFs we have tried to format them so that one can use the “table of contents” function on PDF readers, where you can list the contents on the side of the document. That way you can easily go to each section of the book without scrolling through the various pages.

I am not inclined to make a change to the book to include page numbers that start with the title page, I’m afraid. If we were to make a change to the Ethics book we should do that for all of the books in the series, for consistency. But this would make the series different than most other digital books with PDF exports (including other open textbooks) and would result in page numbers for title pages and blank pages, which seems somewhat unusual.

I hope some of these suggestions for how to address the issue are helpful, though I realize they don’t solve it completely.

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