Analytic philosophy

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Analytic philosophy is a broad movement or tradition within philosophy focused on analysis, which has been dominant within Western philosophy and especially anglophone philosophy since the latter half of the 20th century.[1][2][3] The proliferation of analysis in philosophy began around the turn of the 20th century in the contemporary era in Germany, Austria, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Scandinavia.

Analytic philosophy is often contrasted with


Analytic philosophy is characterized by clarity of prose and rigor in arguments, making use of

Central figures in its historical development are Gottlob Frege, Bertrand Russell, G. E. Moore, and Ludwig Wittgenstein. Other important figures in its history include Franz Brentano, the logical positivists (particularly Rudolf Carnap), W. V. O. Quine, Karl Popper, and ordinary language philosophy (such as Gilbert Ryle or J. L. Austin). After the decline of logical positivism, Saul Kripke, David Lewis, and others led a revival in metaphysics.

Characterizing analytic philosophy

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".[15]

A.P. Martinich draws an analogy between analytic philosophy and analytic chemistry, which aims to determine chemical compositions.[17]

Others still will note a dedication to clarity.[18] According to Scott Soames, "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 characterized 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".[19]

The 1950s saw challenges to much which had been taken for granted, and roughly by 1960 anglophone philosophy began to incorporate a wider range of interests, opinions, and methods.[20] Despite this, most philosophers in Britain and America still consider themselves "analytic philosophers".[9][j] 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,[9][20] characterized by mathematical precision and thoroughness about a specific topic, and resistance to "imprecise or cavalier discussions of broad topics".[20]


The tradition has also been criticized for excessive formalism, ahistoricism, and aloofness towards alternative disciplines and outsiders.[22][23][24] Some have tried to develop a postanalytic philosophy.

History of analytic philosophy


Austrian philosopher and psychologist Franz Brentano in Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint (1874) through the subsequent influence of School of Brentano members such as Edmund Husserl and Alexius Meinong gave to analytic philosophy the "problem of intentionality" or of aboutness.[25] For Brentano, all mental events have a real, non-mental intentional object which the thinking is "about". Meinong is known for his unique ontology of real nonexistent objects. The Graz School followed Meinong. The Polish Lwów–Warsaw school grew as a further offshoot.


Gottlob Frege, the father of analytic philosophy.

Gottlob Frege (1848–1925) was a German geometry professor at the University of Jena who is understood as the father of analytic philosophy. Frege proved influential as a philosopher of mathematics in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century. He advocated logicism, the project of reducing arithmetic to pure logic.


As a result of his logicist project, Frege developed

Aristotelian logic.[k] Some of these advances were foreshadowed by the likes of English mathematician George Boole and the American pragmatist Charles Sanders Peirce


Neo-Kantianism dominated the late 19th century in German philosophy. Edmund Husserl's 1891 book Philosophie der Arithmetik argued that the concept of the cardinal number derived from psychical acts of grouping objects and counting them.[27]

In contrast to this "

Plato or Bolzano that mathematics and logic have their own public objects, independent of the private judgments or mental states of individual mathematicians and logicians. Following Frege, the logicists tended to advocate a kind of mathematical platonism


Frege also proved influential in the philosophy of language and analytic philosophy's interest in meaning. Michael Dummett traces the linguistic turn to Frege's Foundations of Arithmetic.[28]

Frege's paper On Sense and Reference (1892) is seminal, containing Frege's puzzles and providing a mediated reference theory. His paper Thought: A Logical Inquiry (1918) reflects both his anti-idealism or anti-psychologism and his interest in language. In the paper he argues for a platonist account of propositions or thoughts.


Hegelianism for being obscure—see for example Moore's "A Defence of Common Sense".[l] British idealism as taught by philosophers such as F. H. Bradley (1846–1924) and T. H. Green
(1836–1882), dominated English philosophy in the late 19th century.


Bertrand Russell, during his early career, was much influenced by Frege. Russell famously discovered the paradox which undermined Frege's logicist project. However, like Frege, Russell argued that mathematics is reducible to logical fundamentals in The Principles of Mathematics (1903). He also argued for Meinongianism.

On Denoting

Russell sought to resolve various philosophical problems by applying Frege's new logical apparatus, most famously in his theory of definite descriptions in "On Denoting" (1905).[31] Russell here argues against Meinongianism. He argues all names (aside from demonstratives like "this" or "that") are disguised definite descriptions, using this to solve ascriptions of nonexistence. This position came to be called descriptivism.

Principia Mathematica

Later, his book written with Alfred North Whitehead, Principia Mathematica (1910–1913), the seminal text of the logicist project, encouraged many philosophers to renew their interest in the development of symbolic logic. The work uses a theory of types to avoid the pitfalls of Russell's paradox.

Ideal language

Additionally, Russell adopted Frege's predicate logic as his primary philosophical method, a method Russell thought could expose the underlying structure of philosophical problems. Logical form would be made clear by syntax. For example, the English word "is" has three distinct meanings which predicate logic can express as follows:

  • For the sentence 'the cat is asleep', the is of predication means that "x is P" (denoted as P(x)).
  • For the sentence 'there is a cat', the is of existence means that "there is an x" (∃x).
  • For the sentence 'three is half of six', the is of identity means that "x is the same as y" (x=y).

From about 1910 to 1930, analytic philosophers like Frege, Russell and Russell's student

logic to formalize how philosophical statements
are made.

Logical atomism

Ludwig Wittgenstein

Russell's criticized the Hegelian view of the

formal logic, the early Russell claimed that the problems of philosophy can be solved by showing the simple constituents of complex notions.[18]

Early Wittgenstein

Wittgenstein developed a comprehensive system of logical atomism with a picture theory of meaning in his

logical operators

Wittgenstein thought he had solved all the problems of philosophy with the Tractatus. The work further ultimately concludes all of its propositions are meaningless, illustrated with a ladder one must toss away after climbing up it.

Logical positivism

Members of the Vienna Circle. From left to right:
(1) Moritz Schlick
(2) Otto Neurath;
(3) Hans Hahn

During the late 1920s to 1940s, a group of philosophers known as the Vienna Circle, and another one known as the Berlin Circle, developed Russell and Wittgenstein's philosophy into a doctrine known as "logical positivism" (or logical empiricism). The Vienna Circle was led by Moritz Schlick and included the likes of Rudolf Carnap and Otto Neurath.[33] Logical positivists used formal logical methods to develop an empiricist account of knowledge.[34]

The logical positivists adopted the

analytic or synthetic. They claimed 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. Therefore the logical positivists to reject many traditional problems of philosophy, especially those of metaphysics or ontology
, as meaningless It had the additional effect of making (ethical and aesthetic) value judgments (as well as religious statements and beliefs) meaningless.

Logical positivists therefore typically considered philosophy as having a minimal function. For them, philosophy concerned the clarification of thoughts, rather than having a distinct subject matter of its own.

Kurt Gödel, himself a platonist, but a student of Hans Hahn of the Vienna Circle, produced his incompleteness theorems showing Principia Mathematica also failed to reduce arithmetic to logic.

Several members of the Vienna Circle were Jewish such as Neurath, Hahn, Philipp Frank and Friedrich Waissmann. Others, like Carnap, were gentiles but socialists or pacifists. 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.

In 1936, Schlick was murdered in Vienna by his former student Hans Nelböck. The same year, A. J. Ayer's work Language Truth and Logic introduced the English speaking world to logical positivism.[m]

Ordinary language

After World War II, during the late 1940s and 1950s, analytic philosophy became involved with ordinary-language analysis. This resulted in two main trends.

Later Wittgenstein

One strain continued Wittgenstein's later philosophy from the

meaning as use. It also contains the private language argument and the notion of family resemblance

Oxford philosophy

Portrait of Gilbert Ryle

The other trend, known as "Oxford philosophy" in contrast to earlier analytic Cambridge philosophers (including the early Wittgenstein) who thought philosophers should avoid the deceptive trappings of natural language by constructing ideal languages. Influenced by what they perceived as Wittgenstein's quietism, the Oxford 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 P. F. Strawson, J. L. Austin and Gilbert Ryle.[36]

Ordinary-language philosophers often sought to dissolve philosophical problems by showing them to be the result of ordinary misunderstanding language. Austin emphasized the theory of speech acts and the ability of words to do things (e. g. "I promise") and not just say things. Ryle in The Concept of Mind criticized dualism, arguing in favor of disposing "Descartes' myth" via recognizing "category errors". Strawson first became well known with his article "On Referring" (1950), a criticism of Russell's theory of descriptions explained in the famous "On Denoting" article.

Contemporary analytic philosophy


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[37] and David Armstrong[38] developed elaborate theories on a range of topics such as universals,[39][40] causation,[41] possibility and necessity,[42] and abstract objects.[43]

W. V. O. Quine challenged logical positivism.

Metaphysics remains a fertile topic of research. 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.[44][45]

Decline of logical positivism

Logical positivism was challenged by the later Wittgenstein and Wilfred Sellars's "Myth of the Given" in Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind, which argued against sense-data theories.


Among the developments that resulted in the decline of logical positivism and the revival of metaphysical theorizing was

ontological relativity
explained that every term in any statement has its meaning contingent on a vast network of knowledge and belief, the speaker's conception of the entire world.

Saul Kripke helped to revive interest in metaphysics among analytic philosophers.

Important also for the revival of metaphysics was the further development of modal logic, first introduced by C. I. Lewis, especially the work of Saul Kripke and his Naming and Necessity.[o]

Kripke is widely regarded as reviving theories of essence and identity as respectable topics of philosophical discussion.[48] He argued influentially that flaws in common theories of descriptions and proper names are indicative of larger misunderstandings of the metaphysics of necessity and possibility. Kripke and Hilary Putnam argued for realism about natural kinds.


David Lewis in works like On the Plurality of Worlds argued for modal realism and counterpart theory – the belief in real, concrete possible worlds. According to Lewis, "actual" is merely an indexical label we give a world when we are in it.

Free will and determinism

analytical philosophy.[50] In the book, he introduces the term incompatibilism about free will and determinism, to stand in contrast to compatibilism
—the view that free will is compatible with determinism.


Stanisław Leśniewski coined the term mereology meaning the study of parts and wholes. David Lewis believed in perdurantism and introduced the term gunk. Van Inwagen believes in mereological nihilism except for living beings, a view called organicism.

Personal identity

On the issue of personal identity, Derek Parfit in Reasons and Persons defends mental continuity or a kind of bundle theory, while David Lewis again defends perdurantism.

Logical pluralism

Many valued logics have been popular since Polish logician

JC Beall, together with Greg Restall, is a pioneer of a widely discussed version of logical pluralism.[51]



Edmund Gettier helped to revitalize analytic epistemology.

Owing largely to

theories of justification
to deal with Gettier's examples, or giving alternatives to the justified true belief model.

Problem of the Criterion

While a problem since antiquity, American philosopher Roderick Chisholm in his Theory of Knowledge details the problem of the criterion with two sets of questions:

  1. What do we know? or What is the extent of our knowledge?
  2. How do we know? or What is the criterion for deciding whether we have knowledge in any particular case?

An answer to either set of questions will allow us to devise a means of answering the other. Answering the former question set first is called particularism, whereas answering the latter set first is called methodism. A third solution is skepticism, or doubting there is such a thing as knowledge.


Chisholm defended foundationalism. Quine defended coherentism, a "web of belief." Quine proposed naturalized epistemology.

Internalism and externalism

The debate between internalism and externalism still exists in analytic philosophy.[53] Alvin Goldman is an externalist known for developing a popular form of externalism called reliabilism. Most externalists reject the KK thesis.


Frege questioned standard theories of truth, and sometimes advocated a redundancy theory of truth. Frank Ramsey also advocated a redundancy theory. Alfred Tarski put forward a semantic theory of truth. Frege and Tarski have been ranked as two of the four greatest logicians of all time, along with Aristotle and Gödel.[54][55][56]


"Here is one hand"

Epistemic closure is a property or the principle that if a subject knows , and knows that entails , then can thereby come to know .[57] Most epistemological theories involve a closure principle and many skeptical arguments assume a closure principle. G. E. Moore's famous anti-skeptical "Here is one hand" argument uses closure. Shortly before his death, Wittgenstein wrote On Certainty in response to Moore.

While the principle of epistemic closure is generally regarded as intuitive,[58] philosophers such as Fred Dretske and Robert Nozick in Philosophical Explanations have argued against it.

A priori and a posteriori

Kripke in Naming and Necessity and elsewhere necessity is a metaphysical notion distinct from the epistemic notion of a priori, and that there are necessary truths that are known a posteriori, such as that water is H2O.[48]


In his book

, which applies to all things before a certain time t just in case they are green, but also just in case they are blue after time t.

Other topics

Other and related topics of contemporary research include debates between basic knowledge, the nature of

in justification, and treating knowledge as a primitive concept.


Due to the commitments to empiricism and symbolic logic in the early analytic period, early analytic philosophers often thought that inquiry in the ethical domain could not be made rigorous enough to merit any attention.[59] It was only with the emergence of ordinary language philosophers that ethics started to become an acceptable area of inquiry for analytic philosophers.[59] Philosophers working with the analytic tradition have gradually come to distinguish three major types of moral philosophy.

  • Meta-ethics which investigates moral terms and concepts;[60]
  • Normative ethics which examines and produces normative ethical judgments;
  • Applied ethics, which investigates how existing normative principles should be applied to difficult or borderline cases, often cases created by new technology or new scientific knowledge.


As well as Hume's famous is/ought distinction, twentieth-century meta-ethics has two original strains.

Principia Ethica
G. E. Moore was an ethical non-naturalist.

The first is G.E. Moore's investigation into the nature of ethical terms (e.g., good) in his Principia Ethica (1903), which advances a kind of

Goodness is a simple, undefinable, non-natural property

Contemporary philosophers like Russ Shafer-Landau in Moral Realism: A Defence defend ethical non naturalism.


The second is founded in logical positivism and its attitude that unverifiable statements are meaningless. As a result, they avoided normative ethics and instead began

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. It is also known as the boo/hurrah theory. For example, in this view, saying, "Murder is wrong", is equivalent to saying, "Boo to murder", or saying the word "murder" with a particular tone of disapproval.

While analytic philosophers generally accepted non-cognitivism, emotivism had many deficiencies. It evolved into more sophisticated non-cognitivist theories such as the

speech acts

error theory

Perhaps the most influential critic was

J.O. Urmson
's article "On Grading" also called the is/ought distinction into question.

Normative ethics

The first half of the 20th century was marked by skepticism toward and neglect of normative ethics. However today, contemporary normative ethics is dominated by three schools: consequentialism, virtue ethics, and deontology.


During the early 20th century, utilitarianism was the only non-skeptical type of ethics to remain popular among analytic philosophers. However, as the influence of logical positivism declined mid-century, analytic philosophers had a renewed interest in ethics.

Virtue ethics

Anscombe, Foot, and Alasdaire Macintyre's After Virtue sparked a revival of Aristotle's virtue ethical approach.[p] This increased interest in virtue ethics has been dubbed the "aretaic turn" mimicking the linguistic turn.


ethical philosophy.

Applied ethics

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.[62]

Topics of special interest for applied ethics include environmental issues, animal rights, and the many challenges created by advancing medical science.[63][64][65] In education, applied ethics addressed themes such as punishment in schools, equality of educational opportunity, and education for democracy.[66]

Political philosophy


John Rawls

Isaiah Berlin had a lasting influence on both analytic political philosophy and liberalism with his lecture "Two Concepts of Liberty."[citation needed] Berlin defined 'negative liberty' as absence of coercion or interference in private actions. 'Positive liberty' Berlin maintained, could be thought of as self-mastery, which asks not what we are free from, but what we are free to do.

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 defense of a generally liberal egalitarian account of distributive justice. Rawls introduced the term the veil of ignorance.

This was followed soon by Rawls's colleague

free-market libertarianism. Consequentialist libertarianism also derives from the analytic tradition [citation needed

During recent decades there have also been several critics of liberalism, including the

(although neither of them endorses the term).

Analytical Marxism

Another development of political philosophy was the emergence of the school of

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

from each according to his ability, to each according to his need

Although not an analytic philosopher, Jürgen Habermas is another influential—if controversial—author in contemporary analytic political philosophy, whose social theory is a blend of social science, Marxism, neo-Kantianism, and American pragmatism.[citation needed]


Alasdair MacIntyre

G. W. F. Hegel and Friedrich Nietzsche


As a result of logical positivism as well as what seemed like rejections of the traditional aesthetic notions of beauty and sublimity from

post-modern thinkers, analytic philosophers were slow to consider art and aesthetic judgment. Susanne Langer[67] and Nelson Goodman[68] addressed these problems in an analytic style during the 1950s and 1960s. Since Goodman, aesthetics as a discipline for analytic philosophers has flourished.[69]

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,[71] sublimity,[72] and beauty.[73] In the opinion of Władysław Tatarkiewicz, there are six conditions for the presentation of art: beauty, form, representation, reproduction of reality, artistic expression and innovation. However, one may not be able to pin down these qualities in a work of art.[74]

George Dickie was an influential philosopher of art. Dickie's student Noël Carroll is a leading philosopher of art.

Philosophy of language

Given the linguistic turn, it can be hard to separate logic, metaphysics, and the philosophy of language in analytic philosophy. Philosophy of language is a topic that has decreased in activity during the last four decades, as evidenced by the fact that few major philosophers today treat it as a primary research topic. While the debate remains fierce, it is still strongly influenced by those authors from the first half of the century e. g. Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein, Austin, Tarski, and Quine.


Kripke provided a semantics for modal logic. In Saul Kripke's publication Naming and Necessity, Kripke challenges the descriptivist theory with a causal theory of reference. In it he introduced the term rigid designator. Ruth Barcan Marcus also challenged descriptivism. So did Keith Donnellan.

Hilary Putnam used the Twin Earth thought experiment to argue for semantic externalism, or the view that the meanings of words are not psychological. Donald Davidson uses the thought experiment of Swampman to advocate semantic externalism.

Kripke in Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language also provides a rule-following paradox that undermines the possibility of our ever following rules in our use of language.

Another influential philosopher,

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.


Paul Grice and his maxims and theory of implicature established the discipline of pragmatics.

Philosophy of mind and cognitive science

John Searle

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.[75]


Motivated by the logical positivists' interest in verificationism,

type physicalism or functionalism. During this period, topics of the philosophy of mind were often related strongly to topics of cognitive science such as modularity or innateness


Behaviorists like B. F. Skinner 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.

Hilary Putnam

Hilary Putnam criticized behaviorism by arguing that it confuses the symptoms of mental states with the mental states themselves, positing "super Spartans" who never display signs of pain.[77]

Type Identity

Type physicalism or type identity theory identified mental states with brain states. J. J. C. Smart argued for type physicalism.


Functionalism remains the dominant theory. Type identity was criticized using multiple realizability.

Searle's Chinese room argument criticized functionalism and holds that while a computer can understand syntax, it could never understand semantics.


David Chalmers

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.[78]


Theories of consciousness

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,[79] 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.[80]

Philosophy of mathematics

Since the beginning, analytic philosophy has had an interest in the philosophy of mathematics. Gödel's work ultimately led to Ernst Zermelo making Zermelo Fraenkel Set Theory. Eugene Wigner's seminal paper the Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences poses the question why a formal pursuit like mathematics can have real utility.

Akin to the medieval debate on universals between realists, idealists and nominalists; philosophy of mathematics has the debate between logicists or platonists, conceptualists or intuitionists, and formalists.[81]


Quine and Putnam argued for platonism with the indispensability argument. Crispin Wright led a Neo-Fregean revival with his work Frege's Conception of Numbers as Objects.


Paul Benacerraf gives an epistemological objection to mathematical platonism. Benacerraf is a structuralist.


The intuitionists were led by

objective truth


The formalists were best exemplified by

mathematical fictionalism

Philosophy of religion

Alvin Plantinga

In Analytic Philosophy of Religion, James Franklin 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 provided a philosophical mechanism for responding to other more radical and hostile forms of analytic philosophy.[82]: 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.[q] The demise of logical positivism renewed interest in philosophy of religion, prompting philosophers not only to introduce new problems, but to re-study classical topics such as the existence of God, the nature of miracles, the problem of evil, the rationality of belief in God, concepts of the nature of God, and several others.[83] The Society of Christian Philosophers was established in 1978.

Reformed epistemology

Analytic epistemology and metaphysics has formed the basis for some philosophically sophisticated theistic arguments, such as those of the reformed epistemologists like Alvin Plantinga, William Alston, William Lane Craig, and Nicholas Wolterstorff. Plantinga's seminal work God and Other Minds (1967) argues that belief in God is a properly basic belief akin to the belief in other minds. Plantinga, J. L. Mackie and Antony Flew debated the use of the free will defense as a way to solve the problem of evil.[84] Plantinga's evolutionary argument against naturalism contends a skeptical problem with asserting both evolution and naturalism.

Alston, grappling with the consequences of analytic philosophy of language, worked on the nature of religious language. Craig defends the Kalam cosmological argument in the book of the same name. Robert Merrihew Adams defends divine command theory and worked on the relationship of faith and morality.[85]

Analytic Thomism

Catholic philosophers in the analytic tradition such as Elizabeth Anscombe, Peter Geach, Anthony Kenny, and others developed an analytic approach to Thomism.


Richard Swinburne wrote a trilogy of books arguing for God consisting of The Coherence of Theism, The Existence of God, and Faith and Reason.

Wittgenstein and religion

Analytic philosophy of religion has been preoccupied with Wittgenstein, as well as his interpretation of Søren Kierkegaard's philosophy of religion.[86] Wittgenstein fought for the Austrian army in the First World War and came upon a copy of Leo Tolstoy's Gospel In Brief. At this time, he underwent some kind of religious conversion.[87]

Using first-hand remarks (which was later published in Philosophical Investigations, Culture and Value, and other works), philosophers such as

D.Z. Phillips
, among others.

The name "contemplative philosophy" was coined by D.Z. Phillips in Philosophy's Cool Place, which rests on an interpretation of a passage from Wittgenstein's Culture and Value.[88] This interpretation was first labeled "Wittgensteinian Fideism" by Kai Nielsen, but those who consider themselves members of the Swansea school have relentlessly and repeatedly rejected this construal as a caricature of Wittgenstein's position; this is especially true of D.Z. Phillips.[89] Responding to this interpretation, Kai Nielsen and D.Z. Phillips became two of the most prominent philosophers on Wittgenstein's philosophy of religion.[90]

Philosophy of science

Science and the philosophy of science has also had an increasingly significant role in analytic 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.[45] The weight given to scientific evidence is largely due to commitments among philosophers to scientific realism and naturalism. Others will see a commitment to using science in philosophy as scientism.


Karl Popper

In reaction to what he considered excesses of logical positivism, Karl Popper in The Logic of Scientific Discovery insisted on the role of falsification in the philosophy of science, using it to solve the demarcation problem.[91]

Confirmation holism

The Duhem-Quine thesis posits no scientific hypothesis can be understood in isolation, a viewpoint called confirmation holism.


In reaction to both the logical positivists and Popper, discussions of philosophy of science during the last 40 years were dominated by

epistemological anarchism are significant for these discussions.[92]


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.[93] Daniel Dennett and his 1995 book Darwin's Dangerous Idea, which defends Neo-Darwinism, stand at the foreground of this debate.[94] Jerry Fodor criticizes natural selection.

Philosophy of time

Analytic philosophy of time traces its roots to the British idealist

tense logic
, advocated the A-theory of time.


  1. ^ The distinction rests upon a confusion of geographical and methodological terms, as if one were to classify cars into front-wheel drive and Japanese. [...] the distinction between analytic and Continental philosophy rests upon a confused comparison of methodological and geographical categories.[4]
  2. ^ "Analytic philosophy is mainly associated with the contemporary English-speaking world, but it is by no means the only important philosophical tradition. In this volume two other immensely rich and important such traditions are introduced: Indian philosophy, and philosophical thought in Europe from the time of Hegel."[5]
  3. ^ "So, despite a few overlaps, analytical philosophy is not difficult to distinguish broadly [...] from other modern movements, like phenomenology, say, or existentialism, or from the large amount of philosophizing that has also gone on in the present century within frameworks deriving from other influential thinkers like Aquinas, Hegel, or Marx."[6]
  4. ^ "Most non-analytic philosophers of the twentieth century do not belong to continental philosophy."[7]
  5. ^ Quote on the definition: "'Analytic' philosophy today names a style of doing philosophy, not a philosophical program or a set of substantive views. Analytic philosophers, crudely speaking, aim for argumentative clarity and precision; draw freely on the tools of logic; and often identify, professionally and intellectually, more closely with the sciences and mathematics, than with the humanities."[9]
  6. ^ "analytical philosophy [is] too narrow a label, since [it] is not generally a matter of taking a word or concept and analyzing it (whatever exactly that might be). [...] This tradition emphasizes clarity, rigor, argument, theory, truth. It is not a tradition that aims primarily for inspiration or consolation or ideology. Nor is it particularly concerned with 'philosophy of life', though parts of it are. This kind of philosophy is more like science than religion, more like mathematics than poetry—though it is neither science nor mathematics."[10]
  7. ^ "[I]t is difficult to give a precise definition of 'analytic philosophy' since it is not so much a specific doctrine as a loose concatenation of approaches to problems."[11]
  8. ^ "I think Sluga is right in saying 'it may be hopeless to try to determine the essence of analytic philosophy.' Nearly every proposed definition has been challenged by some scholar. [...] [W]e are dealing with a family resemblance concept."[12]
  9. ^ "The answer to the title question, then, is that analytic philosophy is a tradition held together both by ties of mutual influence and by family resemblances."[13]
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