2. Philosophical Analysis

I'm not inclined to offer prescriptions for the use of the word philosophy, or analysis of its very diverse applications. Nor am I inclined to provide a basis for rejecting ideas simply on the grounds that they transgress some such demarkation.

My purpose in presenting a conception of philosophical analysis are, firstly, in this prologue, to make what follows more readily intelligible, and secondly, in the epilogue, to offer motivated ideas for the future of philosophical analysis.

I begin with some desiderata for philosophical analysis:

  1. something about subject matters
  2. that it be `rational'
  3. that it seek to progress its subject matters from informal and intuitive beginnings in the direction of the formal and deductive
  4. that the deductive skeleton of an analysis be clearly separated out from its other elements
  5. that the context in which deduction takes place should be clearly understood and should be shown to be consistent

2.1 Holistic and Deductive Analysis

I'm looking for a conception of philosophical analysis which encompasses the whole of rationality, in the context of a conception of rational which goes beyond that of deductive reason.

Deductive analysis is characterised by the use of a particular kind of language, that kind of language which has a well-defined truth conditional semantics. The well-definedness condition is important but not so very clear. It suffices for well-definedness that the language could be given an abstract semantics in set theory. In a language meeting that requirement it will be possible to construct definite contexts (think consistent set of premises here) in which deductive reason can be undertaken. It is important for my purposes here that we are fussy about these conditions for sound deductive reasoning, because it is part of the pathology of rationality that it frequently masquerades as deductive something which falls so far short of the standard as to be no better than rhetoric.

Roger Bishop Jones 2016-01-07