“Do Something, Quick!” lays out some of the formal qualities of the philosophical example considered as a literary genre, the subject of the three essays that follow. This introduction takes Adam Smith’s famous imagining of a hypothetical earthquake in China, from The Theory of Moral Sentiments, to illustrate the generic excess of examples, which are interesting in part because they are never reducible to the arguments they supposedly exemplify. It then proceeds to use the example to trouble the apparent opposition between utilitarianism—the implicit target of many philosophical examples—and Kantian aesthetics, thereby suggesting a new usefulness for both.

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