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Analytic philosophy (sometimes analytical philosophy) is a style of philosophy that became dominant in the Western world at the beginning of the 20th century. The term can refer to one of several things:
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental questions about existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Such questions are often posed as problems to be studied or resolved. The term was probably coined by Pythagoras. Philosophical methods include questioning, critical discussion, rational argument, and systematic presentation. Classic philosophical questions include: Is it possible to know anything and to prove it? What is most real? Philosophers also pose more practical and concrete questions such as: Is there a best way to live? Is it better to be just or unjust? Do humans have free will?
The Western world, also known as the West, refers to various nations depending on the context, most often including at least parts of Europe, Australasia, and the Americas, with the status of Latin America disputed by some. There are many accepted definitions, all closely interrelated. The Western world is also known as the Occident, in contrast to the Orient, or Eastern world.
Foundationalism concerns philosophical theories of knowledge resting upon justified belief, or some secure foundation of certainty such as a conclusion inferred from a basis of sound premises. The main rival of the foundationalist theory of justification is the coherence theory of justification, whereby a body of knowledge, not requiring a secure foundation, can be established by the interlocking strength of its components, like a puzzle solved without prior certainty that each small region was solved correctly.
John Locke was an English philosopher and physician, widely regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers and commonly known as the "Father of Liberalism". Considered one of the first of the British empiricists, following the tradition of Sir Francis Bacon, he is equally important to social contract theory. His work greatly affected the development of epistemology and political philosophy. His writings influenced Voltaire and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, many Scottish Enlightenment thinkers, as well as the American revolutionaries. His contributions to classical republicanism and liberal theory are reflected in the United States Declaration of Independence.
Willard Van Orman Quine was an American philosopher and logician in the analytic tradition, recognized as "one of the most influential philosophers of the twentieth century." From 1930 until his death 70 years later, Quine was continually affiliated with Harvard University in one way or another, first as a student, then as a professor of philosophy and a teacher of logic and set theory, and finally as a professor emeritus who published or revised several books in retirement. He filled the Edgar Pierce Chair of Philosophy at Harvard from 1956 to 1978. A 2009 poll conducted among analytic philosophers named Quine as the fifth most important philosopher of the past two centuries. He won the first Schock Prize in Logic and Philosophy in 1993 for "his systematical and penetrating discussions of how learning of language and communication are based on socially available evidence and of the consequences of this for theories on knowledge and linguistic meaning." In 1996 he was awarded the Kyoto Prize in Arts and Philosophy for his "outstanding contributions to the progress of philosophy in the 20th century by proposing numerous theories based on keen insights in logic, epistemology, philosophy of science and philosophy of language."
Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell, was a British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, writer, essayist, social critic, political activist, and Nobel laureate. At various points in his life, Russell considered himself a liberal, a socialist and a pacifist, although he also confessed that his sceptical nature had led him to feel that he had "never been any of these things, in any profound sense." Russell was born in Monmouthshire into one of the most prominent aristocratic families in the United Kingdom.
Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein was an Austrian philosopher who worked primarily in logic, the philosophy of mathematics, the philosophy of mind, and the philosophy of language.
Friedrich Ludwig Gottlob Frege was a German philosopher, logician, and mathematician. He is understood by many to be the father of analytic philosophy, concentrating on the philosophy of language and mathematics. Though largely ignored during his lifetime, Giuseppe Peano (1858–1932) and Bertrand Russell (1872–1970) introduced his work to later generations of logicians and philosophers.
According to a characteristic paragraph by Russell:
Modern analytical empiricism [...] differs from that of Locke, Berkeley, and Hume by its incorporation of mathematics and its development of a powerful logical technique. It is thus able, in regard to certain problems, to achieve definite answers, which have the quality of science rather than of philosophy. It has the advantage, in comparison with the philosophies of the system-builders, of being able to tackle its problems one at a time, instead of having to invent at one stroke a block theory of the whole universe. Its methods, in this respect, resemble those of science.
In the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Scandinavia, the majority of university philosophy departments today identify themselves as "analytic" departments.Analytic philosophy is often understood in contrast to other philosophical traditions, most notably continental philosophies such as existentialism and phenomenology, and also Thomism and Marxism.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain and Ireland. The United Kingdom's 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi) were home to an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.
The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.
Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic to the Pacific and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering 9.98 million square kilometres, making it the world's second-largest country by total area. Canada's southern border with the United States, stretching some 8,891 kilometres (5,525 mi), is the world's longest bi-national land border. Its capital is Ottawa, and its three largest metropolitan areas are Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. As a whole, Canada is sparsely populated, the majority of its land area being dominated by forest and tundra. Consequently, its population is highly urbanized, with over 80 percent of its inhabitants concentrated in large and medium-sized cities, with 70% of citizens residing within 100 kilometres (62 mi) of the southern border. Canada's climate varies widely across its vast area, ranging from arctic weather in the north, to hot summers in the southern regions, with four distinct seasons.
British idealism, as taught by philosophers such as F.H. Bradley (1846–1924) and Thomas Hill Green (1836–1882), dominated English philosophy in the late 19th century. With reference to this intellectual basis the initiators of analytic philosophy, G.E. Moore and Bertrand Russell, articulated early analytic philosophy.
A species of absolute idealism, British idealism was a philosophical movement that was influential in Britain from the mid-nineteenth century to the early twentieth century. The leading figures in the movement were T. H. Green (1836–1882), F. H. Bradley (1846–1924), and Bernard Bosanquet (1848–1923). They were succeeded by the second generation of J. M. E. McTaggart (1866–1925), H. H. Joachim (1868–1938), J. H. Muirhead (1855–1940), and R. G. Collingwood (1889–1943). The last major figure in the tradition was G. R. G. Mure (1893–1979). Doctrines of early British idealism so provoked the young Cambridge philosophers G. E. Moore and Bertrand Russell that they began a new philosophical tradition, analytic philosophy.
Thomas Hill Green, known as T. H. Green, was an English philosopher, political radical and temperance reformer, and a member of the British idealism movement. Like all the British idealists, Green was influenced by the metaphysical historicism of G. W. F. Hegel. He was one of the thinkers behind the philosophy of social liberalism.
Since its beginning, a basic goal of analytic philosophy has been conceptual clarity,in the name of which Moore and Russell rejected Hegelianism for being obscure—see for example Moore's "A Defence of Common Sense" and Russell's critique of the doctrine of internal relations. Inspired by developments in modern logic, the early Russell claimed that the problems of philosophy can be solved by showing the simple constituents of complex notions. An important aspect of British idealism was logical holism—the opinion that there are aspects of the world that can be known only by knowing the whole world. This is closely related to the opinion that relations between items are internal relations, that is, properties of the nature of those items. Russell, along with Wittgenstein, in response promulgated logical atomism and the doctrine of external relations—the belief that the world consists of independent facts.
Russell, during his early career, along with his collaborator Alfred North Whitehead, was much influenced by Gottlob Frege (1848–1925), who developed predicate logic, which allowed a much greater range of sentences to be parsed into logical form than was possible using the ancient Aristotelian logic. Frege was also influential as a philosopher of mathematics in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century. In contrast to Edmund Husserl's 1891 book Philosophie der Arithmetik, which argued that the concept of the cardinal number derived from psychical acts of grouping objects and counting them, : Grundgesetze der Arithmetik, 1893–1903), where he provided an alternative to psychologistic accounts of the concept of number.Frege argued that mathematics and logic have their own validity, independent of the judgments or mental states of individual mathematicians and logicians (which were the basis of arithmetic according to the "psychologism" of Husserl's Philosophie). Frege further developed his philosophy of logic and mathematics in The Foundations of Arithmetic (1884) and The Basic Laws of Arithmetic (German
Like Frege, Russell argued that mathematics is reducible to logical fundamentals in The Principles of Mathematics (1903). Later, his book written with Whitehead, Principia Mathematica (1910–1913), encouraged many philosophers to renew their interest in the development of symbolic logic. Additionally, Russell adopted Frege's predicate logic as his primary philosophical method, a method Russell thought could expose the underlying structure of philosophical problems. For example, the English word "is" has three distinct meanings which predicate logic can express as follows:
Russell sought to resolve various philosophical problems by applying such logical distinctions, most famously in his analysis of definite descriptions in "On Denoting" (1905).
From about 1910 to 1930, analytic philosophers like Russell and Ludwig Wittgenstein emphasized creating an ideal language for philosophical analysis, which would be free from the ambiguities of ordinary language that, in their opinion, often made philosophy invalid. This philosophical trend can be termed "ideal-language analysis" or "formalism". During this phase, Russell and Wittgenstein sought to understand language (and hence philosophical problems) by using formal logic to formalize the way in which philosophical statements are made. Wittgenstein developed a comprehensive system of logical atomism in his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (German : Logisch-Philosophische Abhandlung, 1921). He thereby argued that the universe is the totality of actual states of affairs and that these states of affairs can be expressed by the language of first-order predicate logic. Thus a picture of the universe can be construed by means of expressing atomic facts in the form of atomic propositions, and linking them using logical operators.
During the late 1920s, to 1940s, a group of philosophers of the Vienna Circle and the Berlin Circle developed Russell and Wittgenstein's formalism into a doctrine known as "logical positivism" (or logical empiricism). Logical positivism used formal logical methods to develop an empiricist account of knowledge.Philosophers such as Rudolf Carnap and Hans Reichenbach, along with other members of the Vienna Circle, claimed that the truths of logic and mathematics were tautologies, and those of science were verifiable empirical claims. These two constituted the entire universe of meaningful judgments; anything else was nonsense. The claims of ethics, aesthetics and theology were consequently reduced to pseudo-statements, neither empirically true nor false, and therefore meaningless. In reaction to what he considered excesses of logical positivism, Karl Popper's insisted on the role of falsification in the philosophy of science—although his general method was also part of the analytic tradition. With the coming to power of Adolf Hitler and Nazism in 1933, many members of the Vienna and Berlin Circles fled to Britain and the US, which helped to reinforce the dominance of logical positivism and analytic philosophy in Anglophone countries.
Logical positivists typically considered philosophy as having a very limited function. For them, philosophy concerned the clarification of thoughts, rather than having a distinct subject matter of its own. The positivists adopted the verification principle, according to which every meaningful statement is either analytic or is capable of being verified by experience. This caused the logical positivists to reject many traditional problems of philosophy, especially those of metaphysics or ontology, as meaningless.
After World War II, during the late 1940s and 1950s, analytic philosophy became involved with ordinary-language analysis. This resulted in two main trends. One continued Wittgenstein's later philosophy, which differed dramatically from his early work of the Tractatus. The other, known as "Oxford philosophy", involved J.L. Austin. In contrast to earlier analytic philosophers (including the early Wittgenstein) who thought philosophers should avoid the deceptive trappings of natural language by constructing ideal languages, ordinary-language philosophers claimed that ordinary language already represents many subtle distinctions not recognized in the formulation of traditional philosophical theories or problems. While schools such as logical positivism emphasize logical terms, supposed to be universal and separate from contingent factors (such as culture, language, historical conditions), ordinary-language philosophy emphasizes the use of language by ordinary people. The most prominent ordinary-language philosophers during the 1950s were the aforementioned Austin and Gilbert Ryle.
Ordinary-language philosophers often sought to dissolve philosophical problems by showing them to be the result of misunderstanding ordinary language. Examples include Ryle, who tried to dispose of "Descartes' myth", and Wittgenstein.
Although contemporary philosophers who self-identify as "analytic" have widely divergent interests, assumptions, and methods—and have often rejected the fundamental premises that defined analytic philosophy before 1960—analytic philosophy today is usually considered to be defined by a particular style,characterized by precision and thoroughness about a specific topic, and resistance to "imprecise or cavalier discussions of broad topics".
During the 1950s, logical positivism was challenged influentially by Wittgenstein in the Philosophical Investigations , Quine in "Two Dogmas of Empiricism", and Sellars in Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind . After 1960, Anglophone philosophy began to incorporate a wider range of interests, opinions, and methods. [ who? ] would say that it grossly downplays the role of Wittgenstein during the 1960s and 1970s.Still, many philosophers in Britain and America still consider themselves "analytic philosophers". They have done so largely by expanding the notion of "analytic philosophy" from the specific programs that dominated Anglophone philosophy before 1960 to a much more general notion of an "analytic" style. This interpretation of the history is far from universally accepted, and its opponents
Many philosophers and historians have attempted to define or describe analytic philosophy. Those definitions often include an emphasis on conceptual analysis: A.P. Martinich draws an analogy between analytic philosophy's interest in conceptual analysis and analytic chemistry, which aims to determine chemical compositions.Steven D. Hales described analytic philosophy as one of three types of philosophical method practiced in the West: "[i]n roughly reverse order by number of proponents, they are phenomenology, ideological philosophy, and analytic philosophy".
Scott Soames agrees that clarity is important: analytic philosophy, he says, has "an implicit commitment—albeit faltering and imperfect—to the ideals of clarity, rigor and argumentation" and it "aims at truth and knowledge, as opposed to moral or spiritual improvement [...] the goal in analytic philosophy is to discover what is true, not to provide a useful recipe for living one's life". Soames also states that analytic philosophy is characterised by "a more piecemeal approach. There is, I think, a widespread presumption within the tradition that it is often possible to make philosophical progress by intensively investigating a small, circumscribed range of philosophical issues while holding broader, systematic questions in abeyance".
A few of the most important and active topics and subtopics of analytic philosophy are summarized by the following sections.
Motivated by the logical positivists' interest in verificationism, logical behaviorism was the most prominent theory of mind of analytic philosophy for the first half of the 20th century.Behaviorists tended to opine either that statements about the mind were equivalent to statements about behavior and dispositions to behave in particular ways or that mental states were directly equivalent to behavior and dispositions to behave. Behaviorism later became much less popular, in favor of type physicalism or functionalism, theories that identified mental states with brain states. During this period, topics of the philosophy of mind were often related strongly to topics of cognitive science such as modularity or innateness. Finally, analytic philosophy has featured a certain number of philosophers who were dualists, and recently forms of property dualism have had a resurgence; the most prominent representative is David Chalmers.
John Searle suggests that the obsession with the philosophy of language during the 20th century has been superseded by an emphasis on the philosophy of mind,in which functionalism is currently the dominant theory. In recent years, a central focus of research in the philosophy of mind has been consciousness. While there is a general consensus for the global neuronal workspace model of consciousness, there are many opinions as to the specifics. The best known theories are Daniel Dennett's heterophenomenology, Fred Dretske and Michael Tye's representationalism, and the higher-order theories of either David M. Rosenthal—who advocates a higher-order thought (HOT) model—or David Armstrong and William Lycan—who advocate a higher-order perception (HOP) model. An alternative higher-order theory, the higher-order global states (HOGS) model, is offered by Robert van Gulick.
There is a position that analytic philosophy shirked ethical commitments as it maintained its apolitical and conservative positions.A more detailed description of this claim holds that its focus on symbolic logic and empiricism meant that thinkers, particularly of the early analytic philosophy, had no enthusiasm for doing ethics. It was only during the emergence of ordinary language philosophers did ethics become an area for analytic philosophers. Philosophers working with the analytic tradition have gradually come to distinguish three major types of moral philosophy.
Twentieth-century meta-ethics has two origins. The first is G.E. Moore's investigation into the nature of ethical terms (e.g., good) in his Principia Ethica (1903), which identified the naturalistic fallacy. Along with Hume's famous is/ought distinction, the naturalistic fallacy was a major topic of investigation for analytical philosophers.
The second is in logical positivism and its attitude that statements which are unverifiable are meaningless. Although that attitude was adopted originally to promote scientific investigation by rejecting grand metaphysical systems, it had the side effect of making (ethical and aesthetic) value judgments (as well as religious statements and beliefs) meaningless. But because value judgments are of major importance in human life, it became incumbent on logical positivism to develop an explanation of the nature and meaning of value judgements. As a result, analytic philosophers avoided normative ethics, and instead began meta-ethical investigations into the nature of moral terms, statements, and judgments.
The logical positivists opined that statements about value—including all ethical and aesthetic judgments—are non-cognitive; that is, they cannot be objectively verified or falsified. Instead, the logical positivists adopted an emotivist theory, which was that value judgments expressed the attitude of the speaker. For example, in this view, saying, "Killing is wrong", is equivalent to saying, "Boo to murder", or saying the word "murder" with a particular tone of disapproval.
While non-cognitivism was generally accepted by analytic philosophers, emotivism had many deficiencies, and evolved into more sophisticated non-cognitivist theories such as the expressivism of Charles Stevenson, and the universal prescriptivism of R.M. Hare, which was based on J.L. Austin's philosophy of speech acts.
These theories were not without their critics. Philippa Foot contributed several essays attacking all these theories. J.O. Urmson's article "On Grading" called the is/ought distinction into question.
As non-cognitivism, the is/ought distinction, and the naturalistic fallacy began to be called into question, analytic philosophers showed a renewed interest in the traditional questions of moral philosophy. Perhaps the most influential being Elizabeth Anscombe, whose monograph Intention was called by Donald Davidson "the most important treatment of action since Aristotle".A favorite student and friend of Ludwig Wittgenstein, her 1958 article "Modern Moral Philosophy" introduced the term "consequentialism" into the philosophical lexicon, declared the "is-ought" impasse to be unproductive, and resulted in a revival of virtue ethics.
The first half of the 20th century was marked by skepticism toward, and neglect of, normative ethics. Related subjects, such as social and political philosophy, aesthetics, and philosophy of history, became only marginal topics of English-language philosophy during this period.
During this time, utilitarianism was the only non-skeptical type of ethics to remain popular. However, as the influence of logical positivism began to decrease mid-century, analytic philosophers had renewed interest in ethics. G.E.M. Anscombe's 1958 "Modern Moral Philosophy" sparked a revival of Aristotle's virtue ethical approach and John Rawls's 1971 A Theory of Justice restored interest in Kantian ethical philosophy. Today, contemporary normative ethics is dominated by three schools: utilitarianism, virtue ethics, and deontology.
A significant feature of analytic philosophy since approximately 1970 has been the emergence of applied ethics—an interest in the application of moral principles to specific practical issues. The philosophers following this orientation view ethics as involving humanistic values, which involve practical implications and applications in the way people interact and lead their lives socially.
Topics of special interest for applied ethics include environmental issues, animal rights, and the many challenges created by advancing medical science.In education, applied ethics addressed themes such as punishment in schools, equality of educational opportunity, and education for democracy.
In Analytic Philosophy of Religion, Harris noted that
analytic philosophy has been a very heterogeneous 'movement'.... some forms of analytic philosophy have proven very sympathetic to the philosophy of religion and have actually provided a philosophical mechanism for responding to other more radical and hostile forms of analytic philosophy. 3:
As with the study of ethics, early analytic philosophy tended to avoid the study of philosophy of religion, largely dismissing (as per the logical positivists) the subject as part of metaphysics and therefore meaningless.The demise of logical positivism renewed interest in philosophy of religion, prompting philosophers like William Alston, John Mackie, Alvin Plantinga, Robert Merrihew Adams, Richard Swinburne, and Antony Flew not only to introduce new problems, but to re-study classical topics such as the nature of miracles, theistic arguments, the problem of evil, (see existence of God) the rationality of belief in God, concepts of the nature of God, and many more.
Plantinga, Mackie and Flew debated the logical validity of the free will defense as a way to solve the problem of evil.Alston, grappling with the consequences of analytic philosophy of language, worked on the nature of religious language. Adams worked on the relationship of faith and morality. Analytic epistemology and metaphysics has formed the basis for a number of philosophically-sophisticated theistic arguments, like those of the reformed epistemologists like Plantinga.
Analytic philosophy of religion has also been preoccupied with Wittgenstein, as well as his interpretation of Søren Kierkegaard's philosophy of religion.Using first-hand remarks (which was later published in Philosophical Investigations, Culture and Value, and other works), philosophers such as Peter Winch and Norman Malcolm developed what has come to be known as contemplative philosophy, a Wittgensteinian school of thought rooted in the "Swansea tradition," and which includes Wittgensteinians such as Rush Rhees, Peter Winch, and D.Z. Phillips, among others. The name "contemplative philosophy" was first coined by D.Z. Phillips in Philosophy's Cool Place, which rests on an interpretation of a passage from Wittgenstein's "Culture and Value." This interpretation was first labeled, "Wittgensteinian Fideism," by Kai Nielsen but those who consider themselves Wittgensteinians in the Swansea tradition have relentlessly and repeatedly rejected this construal as a caricature of Wittgenstein's considered position; this is especially true of D.Z. Phillips. Responding to this interpretation, Kai Nielsen and D.Z. Phillips became two of the most prominent philosophers on Wittgenstein's philosophy of religion.
Current analytic political philosophy owes much to John Rawls, who in a series of papers from the 1950s onward (most notably "Two Concepts of Rules" and "Justice as Fairness") and his 1971 book A Theory of Justice , produced a sophisticated defence of a generally liberal egalitarian account of distributive justice. This was followed soon by Rawls's colleague Robert Nozick's book Anarchy, State, and Utopia , a defence of free-market libertarianism. Isaiah Berlin also had a lasting influence on both analytic political philosophy and Liberalism with his lecture the Two Concepts of Liberty .
During recent decades there have also been several critiques of liberalism, including the feminist critiques of Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin, the communitarian critiques of Michael Sandel and Alasdair MacIntyre (although neither of them endorses the term), and the multiculturalist critiques of Amy Gutmann and Charles Taylor. Although not an analytic philosopher, Jürgen Habermas is another important—if controversial—author of contemporary analytic political philosophy, whose social theory is a blend of social science, Marxism, neo-Kantianism, and American pragmatism.
Consequentialist libertarianism also derives from the analytic tradition.
Another development of political philosophy was the emergence of the school of analytical Marxism. Members of this school seek to apply techniques of analytic philosophy modern social science such as rational choice theory to clarify the theories of Karl Marx and his successors. The best-known member of this school is G.A. Cohen, whose 1978 work, Karl Marx's Theory of History: A Defence , is generally considered to represent the genesis of this school. In that book, Cohen used logical and linguistic analysis to clarify and defend Marx's materialist conception of history. Other prominent Analytical Marxists include the economist John Roemer, the social scientist Jon Elster, and the sociologist Erik Olin Wright. The work of these later philosophers have furthered Cohen's work by bringing to bear modern social science methods, such as rational choice theory, to supplement Cohen's use of analytic philosophical techniques in the interpretation of Marxian theory.
Cohen himself would later engage directly with Rawlsian political philosophy to advance a socialist theory of justice that contrasts with both traditional Marxism and the theories advanced by Rawls and Nozick. In particular, he indicates Marx's principle of from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.
Communitarians such as Alasdair MacIntyre, Charles Taylor, Michael Walzer, and Michael Sandel advance a critique of Liberalism that uses analytic techniques to isolate the main assumptions of Liberal individualists, such as Rawls, and then challenges these assumptions. In particular, Communitarians challenge the Liberal assumption that the individual can be considered as fully autonomous from the community in which he lives and is brought up. Instead, they argue for a conception of the individual that emphasizes the role that the community plays in forming his or her values, thought processes and opinions.
One striking difference with respect to early analytic philosophy was the revival of metaphysical theorizing during the second half of the 20th century. Philosophers such as David Kellogg Lewis and David Armstrong developed elaborate theories on a range of topics such as universals, causation, possibility and necessity, and abstract objects.
Among the developments that resulted in the revival of metaphysical theorizing were Quine's attack on the analytic-synthetic distinction, which was generally considered to weaken Carnap's distinction between existence questions internal to a framework and those external to it.Important also for the revival of metaphysics was the further development of modal logic, including the work of Saul Kripke, who argued in Naming and Necessity and elsewhere for the existence of essences and the possibility of necessary, a posteriori truths.
Metaphysics remains a fertile topic of research, having recovered from the attacks of A.J. Ayer and the logical positivists. Although many discussions are continuations of old ones from previous decades and centuries, the debate remains active. The philosophy of fiction, the problem of empty names, and the debate over existence's status as a property have all become major concerns, while perennial issues such as free will, possible worlds, and the philosophy of time have been revived.
Science has also had an increasingly significant role in metaphysics. The theory of special relativity has had a profound effect on the philosophy of time, and quantum physics is routinely discussed in the free will debate.The weight given to scientific evidence is largely due to widespread commitments among philosophers to scientific realism and naturalism.
Philosophy of language is a topic that has decreased during the last four decades, as evidenced by the fact that few major philosophers today treat it as a primary research topic. Indeed, while the debate remains fierce, it is still strongly influenced by those authors from the first half of the century: Gottlob Frege, Bertrand Russell, Ludwig Wittgenstein, J.L. Austin, Alfred Tarski, and W.V.O. Quine.
In Saul Kripke's publication Naming and Necessity , he argued influentially that flaws in common theories of proper names are indicative of larger misunderstandings of the metaphysics of necessity and possibility. By wedding the techniques of modal logic to a causal theory of reference, Kripke was widely regarded as reviving theories of essence and identity as respectable topics of philosophical discussion.
Another influential philosopher, Pavel Tichý initiated Transparent Intensional Logic, an original theory of the logical analysis of natural languages—the theory is devoted to the problem of saying exactly what it is that we learn, know and can communicate when we come to understand what a sentence means.
Reacting against both the verificationism of the logical positivists as well as the critiques of the philosopher of science Karl Popper, who had suggested the falsifiability criterion on which to judge the demarcation between science and non-science, discussions of philosophy of science during the last 40 years were dominated by social constructivist and cognitive relativist theories of science. Thomas Samuel Kuhn with his formulation of paradigm shifts and Paul Feyerabend with his epistemological anarchism are significant for these discussions.The philosophy of biology has also undergone considerable growth, particularly due to the considerable debate in recent years over the nature of evolution, particularly natural selection. Daniel Dennett and his 1995 book Darwin's Dangerous Idea , which defends Neo-Darwinism, stand at the foreground of this debate.
Owing largely to Gettier's 1963 paper "Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?", epistemology resurged as a topic of analytic philosophy during the last 50 years. A large portion of current epistemological research is intended to resolve the problems that Gettier's examples presented to the traditional justified true belief model of knowledge, including developing theories of justification in order to deal with Gettier's examples, or giving alternatives to the justified true belief model. Other and related topics of contemporary research include debates between internalism and externalism,basic knowledge, the nature of evidence, the value of knowledge, epistemic luck, virtue epistemology, the role of intuitions in justification, and treating knowledge as a primitive concept.
As a result of attacks on the traditional aesthetic notions of beauty and sublimity from post-modern thinkers, analytic philosophers were slow to consider art and aesthetic judgment. Susanne Langerand Nelson Goodman addressed these problems in an analytic style during the 1950s and 1960s. Since Goodman, aesthetics as a discipline for analytic philosophers has flourished. Rigorous efforts to pursue analyses of traditional aesthetic concepts were performed by Guy Sircello in the 1970s and 1980s, resulting in new analytic theories of love, sublimity, and beauty.
Sir Alfred Jules "Freddie" Ayer, usually cited as A. J. Ayer, was an English philosopher known for his promotion of logical positivism, particularly in his books Language, Truth, and Logic (1936) and The Problem of Knowledge (1956).
Logical positivism, later called logical empiricism, and both of which together are also known as neopositivism, was a movement in Western philosophy whose central thesis was the verification principle. Also called verificationism, this would-be theory of knowledge asserted that only statements verifiable through direct observation or logical proof are meaningful. Starting in the late 1920s, groups of philosophers, scientists, and mathematicians formed the Berlin Circle and the Vienna Circle, which, in these two cities, would propound the ideas of logical positivism.
Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that examines the fundamental nature of reality, including the relationship between mind and matter, between substance and attribute, and between potentiality and actuality. The word "metaphysics" comes from two Greek words that, together, literally mean "after or behind or among [the study of] the natural". It has been suggested that the term might have been coined by a first century CE editor who assembled various small selections of Aristotle’s works into the treatise we now know by the name Metaphysics.
The Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus is the only book-length philosophical work by the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein that was published during his lifetime. The project had a broad goal: to identify the relationship between language and reality and to define the limits of science. It is recognized by philosophers as a significant philosophical work of the twentieth century. G. E. Moore originally suggested the work's Latin title as homage to the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus by Baruch Spinoza.
The Vienna Circle of Logical Empiricism was a group of philosophers and scientists drawn from the natural and social sciences, logic and mathematics who met regularly from 1924 to 1936 at the University of Vienna, chaired by Moritz Schlick.
Ordinary language philosophy is a philosophical methodology that sees traditional philosophical problems as rooted in misunderstandings philosophers develop by distorting or forgetting what words actually mean in everyday use. "Such 'philosophical' uses of language, on this view, create the very philosophical problems they are employed to solve." Ordinary language philosophy is a branch of linguistic philosophy closely related to logical positivism.
Logical atomism is a philosophy that originated in the early 20th century with the development of analytic philosophy. Its principal exponent was the British philosopher Bertrand Russell. It is also widely held that the early work of his Austrian-born pupil and colleague, Ludwig Wittgenstein, defend a version of logical atomism. Some philosophers in the Vienna Circle were also influenced by logical atomis. Gustav Bergmann also developed a form of logical atomism that focused on an ideal phenomalistic language, particularly in his discussions of J.O. Urmson's work on analysis.
20th-century philosophy saw the development of a number of new philosophical schools—including logical positivism, analytic philosophy, phenomenology, existentialism, and poststructuralism. In terms of the eras of philosophy, it is usually labelled as contemporary philosophy.
Carl Gustav "Peter" Hempel was a German writer and philosopher. He was a major figure in logical empiricism, a 20th-century movement in the philosophy of science. He is especially well known for his articulation of the deductive-nomological model of scientific explanation, which was considered the "standard model" of scientific explanation during the 1950s and 1960s. He is also known for the raven paradox.
The linguistic turn was a major development in Western philosophy during the early 20th century, the most important characteristic of which is the focusing of philosophy and the other humanities primarily on the relationship between philosophy and language.
A direct reference theory is a theory of language that claims that the meaning of a word or expression lies in what it points out in the world. The object denoted by a word is called its referent. Criticisms of this position are often associated with Ludwig Wittgenstein.
Positivism is a philosophical theory stating that certain ("positive") knowledge is based on natural phenomena and their properties and relations. Thus, information derived from sensory experience, interpreted through reason and logic, forms the exclusive source of all certain knowledge. Positivism holds that valid knowledge is found only in this a posteriori knowledge.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to philosophy:
Verificationism, also known as the verification principle or the verifiability criterion of meaning, is the philosophical doctrine that only statements that are empirically verifiable are cognitively meaningful, or else they are truths of logic (tautologies).
Western philosophy is the philosophical thought and work of the Western world. Historically, the term refers to the philosophical thinking of Western culture, beginning with Greek philosophy of the pre-Socratics such as Thales and Pythagoras, and eventually covering a large area of the globe. The word philosophy itself originated from the Ancient Greek philosophía (φιλοσοφία), literally, "the love of wisdom".
The aspects of Bertrand Russell's views on philosophy cover the changing viewpoints of philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell (1872–1970), from his early writings in 1896 until his death in February 1970.
British philosophy refers to the philosophical tradition of the British people. "The native characteristics of British philosophy are these: common sense, dislike of complication, a strong preference for the concrete over the abstract and a certain awkward honesty of method in which an occasional pearl of poetry is embedded".
This is an index of articles in philosophy of language
This is a list of articles in analytic philosophy.