Contemporary British and American Philosophy (PHIL*3130)
Term: Fall 2014
This course is an examination of some significant trends and topics in twentieth-century ‘Anglo-American’ philosophical thought, designed as a fairly general introduction to this period of philosophical activity but with a focus on analytic philosophy. We will look at the development of logical atomism and logical positivism in the early part of the century, the mid-century emphasis on linguistic analysis (including so-called “ordinary language” philosophy), and the postpositivistic thought of Sellars and Quine. Themes we will encounter include the relations between language and the world, language and thought, and philosophy and science. Our primary objectives for the course are to: • explore some of the main recurring themes of this period of philosophical thought, and to see how later ideas emerged out of, and in reaction, to earlier ones; • understand and critically evaluate some of the principal theses advanced by important
analytic philosophers; and to • develop skills in reading and writing about complex and abstract ideas. Ultimately, we hope to acquire a solid foundation for understanding some main currents of late twentieth century thought and, in particular, philosophical research as it is practised by the majority of English-speaking philosophers today.
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