Spring 2014

Seminar: Ordinary Language Philosophy

Listed in: Philosophy, as PHIL-476


Alexander George (Section 01)
Nishiten Shah (Section 01)


What kinds of problems are philosophical problems and how should we solve them?  Most philosophers assume that philosophy has a subject matter (the nature of mind, morality, and freedom, for instance) that presents us with substantive questions which we can only answer by articulating general principles that explain the puzzling phenomena.  In the mid-twentieth century, however, some philosophers, working primarily in Britain, argued that philosophical problems are by and large the products of confusion that could be dissolved by attending to the ways in which we ordinarily talk.  The approach promised an exhilarating release from millennia of miasma, but it was roundly condemned by many and now taken seriously by few. We shall examine some of the seminal writings in this tradition.

Requisite: Two courses in Philosophy or consent of the instructor.  Limited to 15 students.  Spring semester.  Professor George.

If Overenrolled: Priority to Amherst students, philosophy majors, and then by class rank, with greatest priority to seniors, then juniors, etc.


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014