Martin Cohen (philosopher)

Martin Cohen (philosopher)

Martin Cohen (born 1964) is a British philosopher, an editor and reviewer who writes on philosophy, philosophy of science and political philosophy.

He studied philosophy and social science at Sussex University where his tutors included some of the early group of philosophers who launched the University's pioneering language and values programme, including Terry Diffey and Bernard Harrison. He obtained a teaching qualification at Keele University and his PhD in philosophy of education from the University of Exeter. After research posts at universities in Britain and Australia, Cohen moved to France to concentrate on his writing, which typically blend "psychological and social studies with philosophical theory ... eschewing technical jargon and using easily understood scenarios to demonstrate the theme".[1] The first of these, 101 Philosophy Problems has been published in a dozen languages and is now in its third edition. His book on thought experiments, Wittgenstein's Beetle and Other Classic Thought Experiments was selected by The Guardian as one of its 'books of the week'[2] and the Times Literary Supplement said that 'With its sense of history, Wittgenstein's Beetle provides the opportunity to consider which thought experiments last.'[3]

The turtle on the stick line drawing, one of a series specially commissioned to illustrate problems and dilemmas in Martin Cohen's introductions to philosophy

Another element of Martin Cohen's style in presenting philosophy is to use simple and unpretentious line drawings both to break up the text (and make it less monolithic) and to illustrate specific issues under discussion, for example the 'Traditional Chinese Problem' of the turtle told to cross a pan of boiling water by balancing on a piece of bamboo.

Cohen has been a frequent contributor and reviewer for the Times Higher Education Supplement (THES),[4] the New Statesman (on environmental issues) and the Guardian (London) (on the role of computers in education)[5] as well as occasional pieces on environmental economics[6] An article in the New York Times (entitled Nuclear Power's Death Somewhat Exaggerated[7]) quoted his book on energy policy and ethics to illustrate how business interests can join forces with environmentalists to improve their public image, a point he also explored in an article for the Times Higher (London) entitled 'The Profits of Doom'.[8]

Mind Games was selected by France Culture as one of new philosophy books for dissection in the program essai du jour.[9]

Select bibliography

Select reviews


  • Would You Kill the Fat Man?: by David Edmonds
  • Animalkind: What we owe to animals: by Jean Kazez
  • Against Fairness: by Stephen Asma

Language and Logic

  • If A then B: How the World Discovered Logic: by Michael Shenefelt and Heidi White
  • Surfaces and Essences: Analogy As the Fuel and Fire of Thinking: by Douglas R. Hofstadter and Emmanuel Sander
  • Language, Thought and Reality: Selected Writings of Benjamin Lee Whorf: by Benjamin Lee Whorf
  • Great Books, Bad Arguments: Republic, Leviathan, and The Communist Manifesto: by Garry Runciman

Philosophy and Religion

  • The God Argument: The Case Against Religion and For Humanism: by A. C. Grayling
  • The God Delusion: by Richard Dawkins

Philosophy of Science

  • The Science Delusion: Freeing the Spirit of Enquiry: by Rupert Sheldrake
  • Cells to Civilisations: The Principles of Change That Shape Life: by Enrico Coen
  • Aping Mankind: Neuromania, Darwinitis and the Misrepresentation of Humanity: by Raymond Tallis
  • Taxing Air: facts and fallacies about Climate Change: by Robert Carter, John Spooner, et al
  • Ecocide: A short history of the mass extinction of species: by Franz J. Broswimmer

History of Philosophy

  • Heidegger: The Introduction of Nazism into Philosophy: by Emmanuel Faye
  • The Nature and Future of Philosophy: by Michael Dummett
  • African Philosophy in Search of Identity: by D.A. Masolo
  • The Philosopher, the Priest and the Painter: by Steven Nadler

Popular Philosophy

  • I Drink Therefore I Am: A Philosopher's Guide to Wine: by Roger Scruton
  • The Consolation of Philosophy: by Alain de Botton


  1. ^ From the review by Geoff Hurst at, accessed 14 November 2010
  2. ^ Laboratories of the mind – Steven Poole on Wittgenstein's Beetle
  3. ^ The Times Literary Supplement | TLS
  4. ^ For example, a sceptical cover story on Global Warming on the occasion of the 2009 Copenhagen conference:
  5. ^ Creativity in ICT classes | Education | The Guardian
  6. ^ Nuclear industry dreams dashed by current economic reality | Business | The Guardian
  7. ^ the article, by Matthew Wald, was published: 10 April 2012
  8. ^ Published 29 July 2010 available online at§ioncode=26
  9. ^ France Culture – (ré)écouter – France Culture