Analytic Philosophy in America

Analytic Philosophy in America: And Other Historical and Contemporary Essays

Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 376
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  • Book Info
    Analytic Philosophy in America
    Book Description:

    In this collection of recent and unpublished essays, leading analytic philosopher Scott Soames traces milestones in his field from its beginnings in Britain and Germany in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, through its subsequent growth in the United States, up to its present as the world's most vigorous philosophical tradition. The central essay chronicles how analytic philosophy developed in the United States out of American pragmatism, the impact of European visitors and immigrants, the midcentury transformation of the Harvard philosophy department, and the rapid spread of the analytic approach that followed. Another essay explains the methodology guiding analytic philosophy, from the logicism of Frege and Russell through Wittgenstein's linguistic turn and Carnap's vision of replacing metaphysics with philosophy of science. Further essays review advances in logic and the philosophy of mathematics that laid the foundation for a rigorous, scientific study of language, meaning, and information. Other essays discuss W.V.O. Quine, David K. Lewis, Saul Kripke, the Frege-Russell analysis of quantification, Russell's attempt to eliminate sets with his "no class theory," and the Quine-Carnap dispute over meaning and ontology. The collection then turns to topics at the frontier of philosophy of language. The final essays, combining philosophy of language and law, advance a sophisticated originalist theory of interpretation and apply it to U.S. constitutional rulings about due process.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5046-4
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-VIII)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. IX-XXIV)

    The fifteen essays collected in this volume include three (essays 3, 4, and 8) that have not previously been published, two (2, 6) that are forthcoming, six (5, 7, 11, 13, 14, 15) that were published between 2011 and 2014, and four (1, 9, 10, 12) that were published between 2007 and 2010. The essays are divided thematically into three sections. The first, which contains the essay from which the title of the volume is taken, consists of seven broad overviews of important movements, advances, and pivotal individual figures in the analytic tradition. The second section continues with three essays...

  4. Origins of These Essays
    (pp. XXV-XXVI)
  5. Part One Milestones
    • 1 Analytic Philosophy in America (2008)
      (pp. 3-34)

      The leading preanalytic philosopher in America, and one of its giants of all time, was Charles Sanders Peirce (1839–1914). Having received a scientific education (including a Harvard BS in chemistry in 1863), he lectured on logic and philosophy of science at Harvard (1864–65, 1869–71) and Johns Hopkins (1879–84), after which he moved to Milford, Pennsylvania, where he continued to write prodigiously. His greatest contributions were in logic, including a syntax for quantification theory (1870) and (1883), and a truth-functionally complete system based on what later came to be called “the Sheffer stroke.” Though his contributions were,...

    • 2 Methodology in Late Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Century Analytic Philosophy (forthcoming)
      (pp. 35-59)

      In the fall of 1910 and the winter of 1911, G. E. Moore gave a series of 20 lectures which were published 42 years later (in substantially their original form) asSome main Problems of Philosophy.¹ The first lecture, “What is Philosophy?” is a useful indicator of the state of analytic philosophy in its early years. In it Moore discusses what he takes to be philosophy’s most important questions, outlines competing answers, and points to what later lectures would make clear to be his own position on many of these questions. Looking back a century later, the contemporary reader can’t...

    • 3 Language, Meaning, and Information: A CASE STUDY ON THE PATH FROM PHILOSOPHY TO SCIENCE
      (pp. 60-70)

      Near the beginning of the final lecture ofThe Philosophy of Logical Atomism, in 1918, Bertrand Russell articulates a view of the relationship between philosophy and science for which there is much to be said. He says:

      I believe the only difference between science and philosophy is that science is what you more or less know and philosophy is what you do not know. Philosophy is that part of science which at present people choose to have opinions about, but which they have no knowledge about. Therefore every advance in knowledge robs philosophy of some problems which formerly it had...

      (pp. 71-103)

      Propositions were, for the early Russell, meanings of sentences, objects of assertion, belief, and knowledge, and the primary bearers of truth and falsity. They also provided him with propositional functions, which map n-tuples of values of free variables in a formula f onto the proposition expressed by f relative to the assignment. Just as the Fregean concept (which maps arguments to truth values) was the backbone of his account of quantification as higher–order predication, so the propositional function was the backbone of Russell’s parallel account. Whereas for Frege the thought expressed by ‘Everything is mortal–if–human’ predicatesbeing...

    • 5 The Place of Willard Van Orman Quine in Analytic Philosophy (2013)
      (pp. 104-138)

      W.V.O. Quine was born on June 25, 1908, in Akron, Ohio. From 1926 to 1930 he attended Oberlin College, from which he graduated with a BA in mathematics that included reading in mathematical philosophy. He received his PhD from Harvard in 1932 with a dissertation onPrincipia mathematicaadvised by Alfred North Whitehead. Quine spent the next year traveling on fellowship in Europe, where he interacted with Carnap, Tarski, Lesniewski, Lukasiewicz, Schlick, Hahn, Reichenbach, Gödel, and Ayer. Between 1933 and 1936 Quine was a Junior Fellow at the Harvard Society. In 1936, he joined the Harvard faculty, where he remained...

    • 6 David Lewis’s Place in Analytic Philosophy (forthcoming)
      (pp. 139-166)

      By the early 1970s, David Lewis and Saul Kripke had taken over W.V.O. Quine’s leadership in metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of language, and philosophical logic in the English-speaking world. Their dominance continued through 2001. Quine, in turn, had inherited his position in the early 1950s from Rudolf Carnap, who had been the leading logical positivist—first in Europe, then, after 1935, in America. A renegade positivist himself, Quine eschewed apriority, necessity, and analyticity while (for a time) adopting a holistic version of verificationism. Like Carnap, Quine placed philosophical logic and the philosophy of science at the center of philosophy. While not...

    • 7 Kripke on Epistemic and Metaphysical Possibility: TWO ROUTES TO THE NECESSARY A POSTERIORI (2011)
      (pp. 167-188)

      Saul Kripke’s discussion of the necessary a posteriori innaming and necessityand “Identity and Necessity,” laid the foundation for distinguishing epistemic from metaphysical possibility, and explaining the relationship between the two.¹ My aim is to extract the enduring lessons of his discussion and to disentangle them from certain difficulties which, alas, can also be found there. I will argue that there are two Kripkean routes to the necessary a posteriori—one correct and far-reaching, the other incorrect and philosophically misleading.² After distinguishing these routes, I will apply the lessons learned to his discussion of mind–body identity.

      Although Kripke...

  6. Part Two Historical Problems and Controversies
    • 8 What Is the Frege/Russell Analysis of Quantification?
      (pp. 191-199)

      The Frege-Russell analysis of quantification was a fundamental advance in semantics and philosophical logic. Abstracting away from details idiosyncratic to each, the key idea is that quantifiers express higher-level properties that are predicated of lower-level properties. The two philosophers express thisproperties of propertiesanalysis slightly differently. Whereas Russell talks of properties of propositional functions (which are functions from objects to structured propositions), Frege speaks of senses that present higher-level concepts that are predicated of lower-level concepts. Since the issues I will raise are neutral between these different frameworks, I will confine the discussion to property talk.¹

      The analysis is...

      (pp. 200-206)

      Michael Kremer complains that my first-order presentation of Russell’s logicist reduction in Soames (2003) “misrepresents the technical achievement of Russell’s theory of classes”—which he identifies with the “ontological economy” of eliminating commitment to classes (sets). I disagree. Russell did attempt to eliminate classes, and he connected this attempt to other interesting projects. These projects aside, however, the purported elimination was not, in my opinion, a genuine achievement, and the relevant issues have little to do with first-order versus second-order symbolizations.

      Kremer’s discussion focuses on what he calls Russell’s “contextual definition of classes,” the purpose of which is “to eliminate...

    • 10 Ontology, Analyticity, and Meaning: THE QUINE-CARNAP DISPUTE (2009)
      (pp. 207-228)

      In the middle of the twentieth century a dispute erupted between the chief architect of logical empiricism, Rudolf Carnap, and logical empiricism’s chief reformer, Willard Van Orman Quine—who was attempting to save what he took to be its main insights by recasting them in a more acceptable form. Though both philosophers eschewed metaphysics of the traditional apriori sort, and both were intent on making the investigation of science the center of philosophy, they disagreed about how to do so. Part of the disagreement involved the nature of ontological disputes. The following are the central documents in the debate:


  7. Part Three Current Topics
    • 11 Two Versions of Millianism (2012)
      (pp. 231-264)

      With the addition of Kit Fine’sSemantic relationismto the mix, there are now two main versions of Millianism on offer.¹ Both maintain

      (i) that the semantic contents of names, indexicals, and variables (appropriately relativized) are their referents;

      (ii) that the semantic contents of sentences (so relativized) are the propositions they express;

      (iii) that attitudes like assertion and belief are relations to propositions; and

      (iv) that the semantic contents of attitude reports . [A asserts/believes that S] represent the agent as bearing the attitude to the proposition expressed by S (relative to the context of utterance and any relevant assignment...

    • 12 What Are Natural Kinds? (2007)
      (pp. 265-280)

      Though the question is ontological, I will approach it through another, partially linguistic, question. What must natural kinds be like if the conventional wisdom about natural kind terms is correct? Although answering this question won’t tell us everything we want to know, it will, I think, be useful in narrowing the range of feasible ontological alternatives. I will therefore summarize what I take to be the contemporary linguistic wisdom and then test different proposals about kinds against it. As we will see, some fare better than others.

      Following Kripke, I take natural kind terms to be akin to proper names.¹...

    • 13 Vagueness and the Law (2012)
      (pp. 281-298)

      We all know that much in our thought and language, as well as much in the law, is vague. We are also reasonably good at recognizing cases of vagueness, even though most of us would be hard pressed to say exactly what vagueness is. In recent decades, there has been a flowering of work in the philosophy of logic and language attempting to do just that. Much of this work has focused on what it is for a word or phrase to be vague. The aim of this effort is to clarify what it is for a claim, question, command,...

    • 14 Toward a Theory of Legal Interpretation (2012)
      (pp. 299-319)

      By “legal interpretation” I mean the legally authoritative resolution of questions about what the content of the law is in its application to particular cases. It is the interpretation of legal textsby legally authoritative actors.One aspect of legal interpretation is epistemic, and one is constitutive. The epistemic task is to ascertain the content of laws resulting from previous actions of other legally authoritative sources. The constitutive task is to render an authoritative judgment that itself plays a role in determining what the content of the law is. Sometimes this judgment changes the content of the laws, or legal...

      (pp. 320-342)

      In this paper I present a new conception,deferentialism, of legal interpretation, which has close affinities with originalism while shedding much of its accumulated baggage. The new conception includes two dimensions of deference to original sources: one to a species of original meaning; the other to a species of original intent. The dimensions are ordered. The first task is to identify the relevant original meaning; intent becomes a constitutive, as opposed to merely evidential, only after that meaning has been identified.¹

      The first question in interpretation is,What does the law say, assert, or stipulate?Saying, asserting, and stipulating are...

  8. Index
    (pp. 343-350)