The Myths We Live By

Adventures in Democracy, Free Speech & other Liberal Inventions

Peter Cave

What’s so good about democracy?

Do free markets set the people free?

Is discrimination always bad?

Are we really all equal before the law?

In this mischievous and provocative book, philosopher Peter Cave dissects and challenges many of the most widely accepted beliefs held about society and politics.  Aided by musings of philosophers from Plato to Wittgenstein, he shows how our fundamental convictions are often built on surprisingly shaky ground.

An important resource in a time of polarized opinion and so-called ‘fake news’, The Myths We Live By deploys ingenious tales and thought experiments, leaving no sacred cow standing.  Wherever you fall on the political spectrum, this entertaining and witty book will have you seeing the world with new eyes.

First published by Atlantic Books in September 2019


‘An elegant and erudite exposé of the hypocrisies and evasions that infect the social and political thinking of our times.’
John Cottingham, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, Reading University.

‘Highly entertaining, informative and challenging…if you want to check whether your beliefs about democracy, rights and free speech aren’t just prejudices – mere myths you happen to have signed up to – this is a great place to start.’
Stephen Law, author of The Complete Philosophy Files

‘With characteristic wit, philosopher Peter Cave takes readers on a journey of discovery through a maze of perplexities.  This is a profound book.’
Dan Cohn-Sherbok, Professor Emeritus, University of Wales

‘At its best, The Myths We Live By resembles a lively tutorial, with the genial Professor Cave challenging readers’ prejudices with counterfactuals, queries and the occasional provocation, before steering them in the direction of further reading.  In an era in which few public figures say what they mean nor mean what they say, it’s a useful and educational experience to think more deeply about the key ideas slipping, sliding and perishing all around us.’
The Sydney Morning Herald

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