Varieties of Philosophical Analysis


Varieties of Philosophical Analysis in recent history are examined and contrasted with the formal analysis framework.

logicism: the seminal work by Frege and Russell identifying mathematics with logic
logical atomism: first attempts by Wittgenstein and Russell to export lessons from the new logic into a general philosophical context
logical positivism: the "Vienna Circle" attempt to assasinate metaphysics. Formality and syntax become more conspicuous in analytic method.
linguistic analysis: formality into the wilderness as the influence of the later Wittgenstein pushes common discourse front stage
formal analysis: our proposed new analytic method, appropriately formal, shorn of empiricist excess, presented in comparison with its ill-fated predecessors.


see also: logicism
  • mathematics is analytic
  • concepts definable and principles derivable from logical concepts and principles

Mathematics Only, logicism is an initial triumph of analysis applied to mathematics using Frege's new logic
Begriffschrift, the greatest advance in logic since Aristotle, finally delivers a formal logic adequate for the derivation of mathematics
definability: concepts are shown to be definable in term of a small number of logical and set theoretic concepts
derivability: theorems are shown to be derivable by a fixed set of rules from a small number of logical and set theoretic axioms
analysis: is reductionist in logical and ontological terms
loose ends: arise from reservations about the logical status of ontological principles and from the essential incompleteness of formal systems, shown later by Gödel

Logical Atomism:

  • sentences are analysed as truth functional combinations of atomic propositions
  • atomic propositions are pictures of atomic facts of which the world is made
What must the world be like? given what we have learnt of the logical structure of language from the new logics?
Semantics: can we learn anything of the nature of the world by semantic analysis of language?
Linguistic Analysis: of sentences as truth functions of atomic propositions
Metaphysical Analysis: of the world as a collection of atomic facts, of which atomic propositions are pictures
Metaphysics Pruned, by vigorous application of occams razor
Empiricism possibly through the identification of atomic facts and sense data

Logical Positivism:

see: Carnap's Syntactical Method
  • the verification principle eliminates metaphysics
  • formal analysis advocated
  • philosophical statements into the formal mode
new position on semantics, in which the meaning of a sentence is identified with its mode of verification
syntactic analysis, is advocated, yielding a classification of meaningful sentences as analytic synthetic or contradictory
scientific statements: must be synthetic and empirically verifiable
philosophical statements: must be analytic, are therefore about language and best presented in "the formal mode", i.e. explicitly about language
metaphysics, is a term of abuse applied to anything which is neither verifiable nor analytic, and henceforth is synonymous with meaningless

Linguistic Analysis:

formality into the wilderness as the influence of the later Wittgenstein pushes "ordinary language" front stage
formality out
formal logical systems are no longer regarded as good models of natural languages or as ideal languages
analysis for clarification: ordinary language is analysed to clarify its meaning, eliminating confusions that sometimes arise
philosophy not special? philosophers not supposed to deliver a priori or analytic truths, these and other classifications come to be regarded with suspicion
diversity of language is emphasised, including purposes other than description, distancing natural from formal languages
no systematic theories it is no longer necessary for philosophers to put forward theories, they can now rest content with pulling them down

Formal Analysis:

our proposed new analytic method, appropriately formal, shorn of empiricist excess, presented in comparison with its ill-fated predecessors.
formal analysis yields analytic truths, we deliberately focus down on this special kind of knowledge through analysis
empiricism limited to the a priori/analytic and a posteriori/synthetic identifications, no phenomenalistic analysis
deductive reasoning, wherever it appears, can be validated by formalisation
precision of language can be reached through formal abstract modelling
metaphysics is OK: choices of how to model concrete objects using abstract
focus on abstract modelling: abstract modelling makes clear the domain in which an argument holds good
arbitrary abstract ontology: within bounds of consistency, abstract ontology is choice of subject matter

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