I'm an avid reader of your blog and have really enjoyed the in-depth analysis of a myriad of issues and assorted ideas. It really is one of a kind!
That being said, I'm emailing to get some advice on how I should further my philosophical studies. I've decided on political science as a major and philosophy as a minor. I hope to pursue my studies far beyond the undergraduate level, mostly in political philosophy. The problem I'm starting to have is when I really try to dissect some of your posts for their technical content, I find that I am unfamiliar with a lot of the philosophical tools that you use in your writings, tools that we undergraduates are not really acquainted with, and so I was wondering if you'd be able to direct me to some resources that would enable me to get to the next level.
So far I've looked far and wide for introductory books that would house something similar to what I've described above, perhaps a compilation of commonly used analytical techniques (if that's what you would call them), but I have come up with virtually nothing.
For some reason, I have this feeling that you're going to tell me that there aren't any such resources, and that the job of the philosopher is to comb through analytic philosophy (or even before) from its inception and pick out strategies that philosophers have introduced, often in ambiguous ways, over a large span of time, and refine them so they are somewhat usable. Is the creation of a toolkit a matter of hitting the books (something I don't mind) or is it really a bottom-up, creative endeavor?
P.S. Your posts regarding politics are a breath of fresh air.
I'm hoping that my readers can be of some assistance here. There are probably some recent handbooks of which I am not aware. But I know of some older books that should be useful. One is Richard L. Purtill, A Logical Introduction to Philosophy. Another is Jay F. Rosenberg, The Practice of Philosophy: A Handbook for Beginners. And you may want to take a look at John Passmore, Philosophical Reasoning and Douglas N. Walton, Informal Logic: A Handbook for Critical Argumentation.