Philosophical Analysis in the Twentieth Century, Volume 2

Philosophical Analysis in the Twentieth Century, Volume 2: The Age of Meaning

Scott Soames
Copyright Date: 2003
Edition: STU - Student edition
Pages: 504
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7t6s7
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  • Book Info
    Philosophical Analysis in the Twentieth Century, Volume 2
    Book Description:

    This is a major, wide-ranging history of analytic philosophy since 1900, told by one of the tradition's leading contemporary figures. The first volume takes the story from 1900 to mid-century. The second brings the history up to date.

    As Scott Soames tells it, the story of analytic philosophy is one of great but uneven progress, with leading thinkers making important advances toward solving the tradition's core problems. Though no broad philosophical position ever achieved lasting dominance, Soames argues that two methodological developments have, over time, remade the philosophical landscape. These are (1) analytic philosophers' hard-won success in understanding, and distinguishing the notions of logical truth, a priori truth, and necessary truth, and (2) gradual acceptance of the idea that philosophical speculation must be grounded in sound prephilosophical thought. Though Soames views this history in a positive light, he also illustrates the difficulties, false starts, and disappointments endured along the way. As he engages with the work of his predecessors and contemporaries--from Bertrand Russell and Ludwig Wittgenstein to Donald Davidson and Saul Kripke--he seeks to highlight their accomplishments while also pinpointing their shortcomings, especially where their perspectives were limited by an incomplete grasp of matters that have now become clear.

    Soames himself has been at the center of some of the tradition's most important debates, and throughout writes with exceptional ease about its often complex ideas. His gift for clear exposition makes the history as accessible to advanced undergraduates as it will be important to scholars. Despite its centrality to philosophy in the English-speaking world, the analytic tradition in philosophy has had very few synthetic histories. This will be the benchmark against which all future accounts will be measured.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-2580-6
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Introduction to Volume 2 OVERVIEW AND HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
    (pp. xiii-xxii)

    This volume continues the story of the leading developments in twentieth-century analytic philosophy begun in volume 1, which ended with the mid-century views of W.V. Quine. Taking up where that one left off, this volume covers the period starting roughly with Ludwig Wittgenstein’sPhilosophical Investigations, published in 1953 but completed several years earlier, and ending about the time of Saul Kripke’sNaming and Necessity, originally given as three lectures at Princeton University in 1970. Topics covered will include the philosophy of the later Wittgenstein, the ordinary language school of Gilbert Ryle, John L. Austin, Peter Strawson, Richard M. Hare, and...

  5. PART ONE: LUDWIG WITTGENSTEIN’S PHILOSOPHICAL INVESTIGATIONS

    • CHAPTER 1 REJECTION OF THE TRACTARIAN CONCEPTION OF LANGUAGE AND ANALYSIS
      (pp. 3-31)

      There are three main topics in thePhilosophical Investigations: (i) a critique of what Wittgenstein regards as the dominant referential conception of meaning, and a proposal to replace it with a conception in which to use language meaningfully is to master a certain kind of social practice; (ii) a critique of the previously dominant conception of philosophical analysis, and the substitution of a new conception of analysis to play the central role in philosophy; and (iii) the development of a new philosophical psychology in which what appear on the surface to be sentences that report private sensations and other internal...

    • CHAPTER 2 RULE FOLLOWING AND THE PRIVATE LANGUAGE ARGUMENT
      (pp. 32-61)

      Wittgenstein discusses understanding and following a rule in sections 143 through 155 and 179 through 202 of theInvestigations. The main lesson of these sections is that understanding a word, or following a rule, is not an internal psychological state; rather, it is a dispositional state involving the use one makes of the word or rule. To understand a word is to be disposed to use or apply it in the correct way, over a wide range of cases, where bythe correct way, we do not mean the way determined by a rule that the speaker knows and has...

    • SUGGESTED FURTHER READING FOR PART ONE
      (pp. 62-64)
  6. PART TWO: CLASSICS OF ORDINARY LANGUAGE PHILOSOPHY:: TRUTH, GOODNESS, THE MIND, AND ANALYSIS

    • CHAPTER 3 RYLE’S DILEMMAS
      (pp. 67-91)

      In this chapter and the next we will discuss Gilbert Ryle, who was one of the leading exponents of the “ordinary language” school of philosophy in postwar Britain. Ryle, a prominent philosopher at Oxford for more than thirty years, became well known in 1931 for his article “Systematically Misleading Expressions,” in which he argued that the task of philosophy is to expose and correct linguistic confusions that have spawned philosophical problems.¹ His main work,The Concept of Mind, was published in 1949, and his bookDilemmas, which was also quite influential (having been reprinted seventeen times since its initial publication),...

    • CHAPTER 4 RYLE’S CONCEPT OF MIND
      (pp. 92-114)

      Ryle’s task in his major work,The Concept of Mind, is to undermine a certain natural and commonly held picture of the mind, and to provide an alternative analysis of our talk about the mental that takes it to be to talk about people’s behavior and the circumstances in which they find themselves. In this chapter, we will look at his project in some detail. However, there is something to be noted at the very outset. As we will see, what Ryle argues for amounts to a sweeping revision of our conception of the mental. This is noteworthy, since such...

    • CHAPTER 5 STRAWSON’S PERFORMATIVE THEORY OF TRUTH
      (pp. 115-134)

      In this chapter, we will examine Peter Strawson’s theory of truth, presented in his 1949 article, “Truth.” This article is a good illustration of several aspects of the ordinary language approach to philosophy.¹ For one thing, it takes on a large and central philosophical issue, which is typical of the leading works of the ordinary language school. We have seen Ryle tackle problems concerning the nature of the mind, and skepticism about perceptual knowledge; we now turn to Strawson’s attempt to give an analysis of truth. The ordinary language school has sometimes been criticized for focusing on petty details, and...

    • CHAPTER 6 HARE’S PERFORMATIVE THEORY OF GOODNESS
      (pp. 135-152)

      In the previous chapter, we examined Peter Strawson’s performative theory of truth, as an illustration of the ordinary language philosopher’s conviction that traditional problems of philosophy can be dissolved by linguistic analysis. According to Strawson, the perennial problems of defining truth, of explaining what truth is, and of discovering the relationship between language and the world on which truth depends were misguided. He thought that these traditional problems arose from failing to understand how the wordtruefunctions linguistically. His hope was that once we understood thattruedoes not express any property, and that its function lies not in...

    • SUGGESTED FURTHER READING FOR PART TWO
      (pp. 153-154)
  7. PART THREE: MORE CLASSICS OF ORDINARY LANGUAGE PHILOSOPHY:: THE RESPONSE TO RADICAL SKEPTICISM

    • CHAPTER 7 MALCOLM’S PARADIGM CASE ARGUMENT
      (pp. 157-170)

      In Part 2, we looked at attempts by ordinary language philosophers to dissolve philosophical problems about truth, goodness, and the mind by applying the techniques of ordinary language analysis to sentences containingtrue,good, and various terms purporting to denote mental states and sensations. In Part 3, we will examine attempts to deal with radical philosophical skepticism within the ordinary language framework. Our first topic is a famous and very interesting argument known as theparadigm case argument, first presented by Norman Malcolm in his article on G. E. Moore, “Moore and Ordinary Language,” originally published in 1942.¹ Malcolm was...

    • CHAPTER 8 AUSTIN’S SENSE AND SENSIBILIA
      (pp. 171-192)

      In the last chapter we discussed attempts to show different kinds of skepticism to be incoherent by arguing that the crucial words used to state the skeptic’s position are ordinary words of a certain special type. Having discussed this strategy, we turn now to a different attempt to undermine skepticism about the external world by linguistic means. The attempt is set out in John Austin’s book,Sense and Sensibilia,¹ which was put together after his death in 1960 from notes he used for a series of lectures given, in somewhat different versions, several times between 1947 and 1959. The book...

    • SUGGESTED FURTHER READING FOR PART THREE
      (pp. 193-194)
  8. PART FOUR: PAUL GRICE AND THE END OF ORDINARY LANGUAGE PHILOSOPHY

    • CHAPTER 9 LANGUAGE USE AND THE LOGIC OF CONVERSATION
      (pp. 197-218)

      In this chapter we will discuss the first three lectures of Paul Grice’s important work, “Logic and Conversation,” originally delivered at Harvard University in 1967, as the William James Lectures.¹ Grice was a philosopher at Oxford from 1938 to 1967, when he moved to Berkeley, where he spent the next 20 years. He was a leading figure of the post–World War II philosophical movement at Oxford that emphasized the importance of ordinary language, and he co-authored an important and influential article with Peter Strawson on the analytic/synthetic distinction.² Despite his ordinary language credentials, he was never doctrinaire or uncritical...

    • SUGGESTED FURTHER READING FOR PART FOUR
      (pp. 219-220)
  9. PART FIVE: THE PHILOSOPHICAL NATURALISM OF WILLARD VAN ORMAN QUINE

    • CHAPTER 10 THE INDETERMINACY OF TRANSLATION
      (pp. 223-258)

      The subject of this chapter is Quine’sWord and Object, which was written in the late 1950s and published in 1960, and which is widely regarded as his most systematic and important work.¹ The man who reveals himself in these pages is a very different kind of philosopher from the ordinary language philosophers we have been discussing. He rejects the doctrine that philosophical problems arise from confusion about the meanings of words or sentences, and rejects the conception of philosophy that sees its central task as providing analyses of meaning that will solve or dissolve philosophical problems. He rejects these...

    • CHAPTER 11 QUINE’S RADICAL SEMANTIC ELIMINATIVISM
      (pp. 259-286)

      In the last chapter, I maintained that Quine’s argument fails to establish his doctrine of the indeterminacy of translation. In this chapter, we will turn to the question of whether that doctrine is true. I will argue that it is not. My strategy will be first, to sketch a companion view about reference that Quine accepts for essentially the same reasons he accepts the indeterminacy of translation, and second, to draw out consequences of the two views and the premises he uses to motivate them—consequences so radical as to be not only extremely implausible, but also self-undermining. If the...

    • SUGGESTED FURTHER READING FOR PART FIVE
      (pp. 287-288)
  10. PART SIX: DONALD DAVIDSON ON TRUTH AND MEANING

    • CHAPTER 12 THEORIES OF TRUTH AS THEORIES OF MEANING
      (pp. 291-311)

      Donald Davidson is well known for his important contributions to a number of philosophical topics, including (i) events, actions, the explanation of action, and the logical form of action sentences,¹ (ii) the nature of the mental and its relation to the physical,² and (iii) the role of meaning in philosophy and the proper theoretical approach for studying it. Although his views had a major impact in each of these areas, his views about meaning were, arguably, the most central components of his philosophical point of view, as well as the most widely known and far-reaching. It is these with which...

    • CHAPTER 13 TRUTH, INTERPRETATION, AND THE ALLEGED UNINTELLIGIBILITY OF ALTERNATIVE CONCEPTUAL SCHEMES
      (pp. 312-330)

      In the previous chapter, we scrutinized Davidson’s attempts to justify the claim that certain theories of truth can play the role of theories of meaning. We now turn to a different but related topic, namely, his argument in “On the Very Idea of a Conceptual Scheme” that, given our conception of truth and its role in providing interpretations of the speech of other linguistic communities, we have no alternative but to reject the very possibility that there could be speakers whose views about the world are profoundly and systematically at variance with our own.¹ Davidson’s argument is based on two...

    • SUGGESTED FURTHER READING FOR PART SIX
      (pp. 331-332)
  11. PART SEVEN: SAUL KRIPKE ON NAMING AND NECESSITY

    • CHAPTER 14 NAMES, ESSENCE, AND POSSIBILITY
      (pp. 335-371)

      In this chapter, we begin our discussion of Saul Kripke’s bookNaming and Necessity, which was originally presented as three long public lectures at Princeton University in January of 1970, when Kripke was 29 years old.¹ A tape recording was made of the lectures, and two professors in the Princeton philosophy department at the time, Gilbert Harman and Thomas Nagel, produced a transcript from the tapes. Kripke added footnotes, and later wrote a preface for the book version. The impact of the lectures was profound and immediate, and over the years their influence has grown. In the philosophy of language,...

    • CHAPTER 15 THE NECESSARY APOSTERIORI
      (pp. 372-396)

      The claim that there are genuine examples of the necessary aposteriori, and the corresponding claim that there are genuine examples of contingent apriori, are among the most important and far-reaching doctrines ofNaming and Necessity. In this chapter, I will explain and evaluate the first of these claims, and the arguments that Kripke gives for it. In chapter 16, I will do the same for the second claim. Kripke’s discussion of these topics may properly be regarded as ground-breaking, and I will argue that many of his examples and arguments are illuminating. However, I will also indicate ways in which...

    • CHAPTER 16 THE CONTINGENT APRIORI
      (pp. 397-422)

      In this chapter, we turn to Kripke’s discussion of the contingent apriori. As with our discussion of the necessary aposteriori, we adopt the expository framework given at the beginning of chapter 15, according to which propositions are the things expressed by sentences, the bearers of (contingent or necessary) truth, as well as the objects of belief, knowledge, and assertion. In addition, we continue to assume that an attitude ascriptionx asserts/believes/knows that Sreports a relation—assertion/belief/knowledge—between an agent and the proposition expressed by S. Kripke’s central doctrine about the contingent apriori may then be understood to be the...

    • CHAPTER 17 NATURAL KIND TERMS AND THEORETICAL IDENTIFICATION STATEMENTS
      (pp. 423-456)

      In this chapter, we will discuss how Kripke extends his central theses about proper names to the broader, more heterogeneous, and more philosophically significant class of natural kind terms. His claim that true theoretical identity sentences involving such terms are examples of the necessary aposteriori is particularly important in this connection. This claim captured the imagination of philosophers, and held out the promise of important and widespread applications in philosophy as a whole, in a way that went well beyond the perceived implications of his similar claim about identity sentences containing proper names. Still, his analysis of proper names laid...

    • SUGGESTED FURTHER READING FOR PART SEVEN
      (pp. 457-460)
  12. EPILOGUE THE ERA OF SPECIALIZATION
    (pp. 461-476)

    In these volumes we have looked at many of the most important developments in analytic philosophy during the period from the turn of the twentieth century through the early 1970s. As I indicated in the “Introduction to the Two Volumes,” it was necessary for me to be highly selective in what to present, with the result that a great deal of valuable work had to be left out. One main criterion for selecting philosophers, schools of philosophy, and philosophical issues to be treated in depth was the scope of their impact, not just on specialists, but on philosophy as a...

  13. INDEX
    (pp. 477-479)