Analytic Philosophy in AmericaAnd Other Historical and Contemporary Essays

Analytic Philosophy in AmericaAnd Other Historical and Contemporary Essays

Scott Soames

Print publication date: 2017

ISBN: 9780691160726

Publisher: Princeton University Press


This collection of recent and unpublished essays traces milestones in the field of analytic philosophy from its beginnings in Britain and Germany in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, through its subsequent growth in the United States, up to its present as the world’s most vigorous philosophical tradition. The central chapter chronicles how analytic philosophy developed in the United States out of American pragmatism, the impact of European visitors and immigrants, the mid-century transformation of the Harvard philosophy department, and the rapid spread of the analytic approach that followed. Another chapter 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 chapters review advances in logic and the philosophy of mathematics that laid the foundation for a rigorous, scientific study of language, meaning, and information. Other chapters 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 book then turns to topics at the frontier of philosophy of language. The final chapters, combining philosophy of language and law, advance a sophisticated originalist theory of interpretation and apply it to U.S. constitutional rulings about due process.