When Words Are Called For

When Words Are Called For: A Defense of Ordinary Language Philosophy

Avner Baz
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Harvard University Press
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    When Words Are Called For
    Book Description:

    Challenging mainstream analytic philosophers to reconsider basic assumptions, Baz defends the much maligned ordinary language philosophy as a form of practice that might provide a viable alternative to current work on philosophical “intuitions,” knowledge, and other areas of philosophical difficulty. He both argues for OLP and practices it here.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-06477-5
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xviii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-7)

    There was a time, about midway through the twentieth century, when a new approach to understanding and treating traditional philosophical difficulties seemed to hold the promise of a fresh start, or turn, in philosophy. This approach was thought to offer a way out of debates that, though typically presenting themselves as in the business of making philosophical progress, had come to be seen, by some at least, as leading nowhere. The new approach came to be known, generically, as ‘ordinary language philosophy’ (henceforth, ‘OLP’).

    Within the mainstream of analytic philosophy, it is now widely held that OLP has somehow been...

  5. CHAPTER 1 The Basic Conflict An Initial Characterization
    (pp. 8-45)

    This chapter presents, though necessarily provisionally, some of the main issues that will come into play in subsequent chapters. Its main purpose is to set the stage for the assessment, in chapter 2, of the main arguments against OLP. I begin with the recurrent allegation against OLP that its practitioners tend to conflate the meaning of words and their use. As I argue, the allegation presupposes one version or another of a conception of meaning that OLP both questions in its own right and, more importantly, sees as responsible for any number of traditional philosophical difficulties. The upshot of my...

  6. CHAPTER 2 The Main Arguments against Ordinary Language Philosophy
    (pp. 46-86)

    Of the main lines of argument against OLP and its procedures that have appeared in the literature, one, I think, may already be rejected. Simply to point to uses of the word under investigation that the ordinary language philosopher has not considered, as Searle, Grice, and Soames do, would only appear to undermine OLP and its procedures to someone who assumed two things: First, that the ordinary language philosopher was after what the opponents of OLP would call ‘an analysis (or theory)’ of the meaning of the word in question, or of the concept it embodies; and second, that the...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Must Philosophers Rely on Intuitions?
    (pp. 87-133)

    For several decades now, philosophers in the mainstream of analytic philosophy pursuing a theory of some subject x (knowledge, necessary truth, causation, intentional action, and so on) have centrally relied on what they themselves have been happy to describe as their own and other people’s ‘intuitions’ of whether or not our concept of x, or the word ‘x’, applies to this or that particular case, real or imagined.¹ I will call the question of whether or not our concept of x, or ‘x’, applies to some real or imaginary case when it is raised as part of an attempt to...

  8. CHAPTER 4 Contextualism and the Burden of Knowledge
    (pp. 134-160)

    In the introduction to this book, I spoke of the widespread belief that OLP has somehow been refuted, or anyway seriously undermined. I then argued in chapters 1 and 2 that this belief is unjustified: those who dismiss OLP have not entitled themselves to that dismissal. This does not mean that OLP is not dead. I think it currently is dead and has been dead for a while—at least for the mainstream of analytic philosophy. The aim of this book is to show that OLP’s death was untimely and, in particular, that contemporary analytic philosophy has suffered as result...

  9. CHAPTER 5 Contextualism, Anti-Contextualism, and Knowing as Being in a Position to Give Assurance
    (pp. 161-187)

    In ‘A Plea for Excuses’, Austin says something that bears on what we saw in the previous chapter and on what we will see in this chapter. He speaks of our words as ‘invoking models’ and then cautions:

    It must be remembered that there is no necessity whatsoever that the various models used in creating our vocabulary, primitive or recent, should all fit together neatly as parts into one single, total model or scheme of, for example, the doing of actions [substitute here: knowing that such and such]. It is possible, and indeed highly likely, that our assortment of models...

  10. Conclusion: Skepticism and the Dialectic of (Semantically Pure) ‘Knowledge’
    (pp. 188-200)

    The traditionalist (anti-contextualist) and the contextualist have both been pressing in their inquiry a particular form of question—‘Does N know that such and such?’ or, alternatively, ‘Would it be true for so and so to say “N (I, You, She …) know(s) that such and such”?’ This form of question, I have argued, as either the traditionalist or the contextualist thinks of it, does not naturally belong in the very situations on which the two parties have tended to focus. More precisely, in the first sort of contexts we discussed, the question of whether (it would be true to...

  11. Epilogue: Ordinary Language Philosophy, Kant, and the Roots of Antinomial Thinking
    (pp. 201-222)

    Several Kantian themes have made their appearance in this book at various points, more or less explicitly. I think it would be useful to explore this philosophical connection a little more systematically and in detail. While various links between Kant and, especially, Wittgenstein (early and late) have been proposed in the literature over the years,¹ the connection I have in mind has not yet been explored, so far as I know, though it is insightfully suggested at various points in Cavell’s work.² There are striking and deep affinities between Kant’s work, especially in the ‘Transcendental Dialectic’ from the Critique of...

  12. References
    (pp. 225-232)
  13. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 233-234)
  14. Index
    (pp. 235-238)