Philosophical analysis

Philosophical analysis (from Greek: Φιλοσοφική ανάλυση) is the techniques typically used by philosophers in the analytic tradition that involve "breaking down" (i.e. analyzing) philosophical issues. Arguably the most prominent of these techniques is the analysis of concepts (known as conceptual analysis).

Method of analysis

While analysis is characteristic of the analytic tradition in philosophy, what is to be analyzed (the analysandum) often varies. Some philosophers focus on analyzing linguistic phenomena, such as sentences, while others focus on psychological phenomena, such as sense data. However, arguably the most prominent analyses are of concepts or propositions, which is known as conceptual analysis (Foley 1996).

Conceptual analysis consists primarily in breaking down or analyzing concepts into their constituent parts in order to gain knowledge or a better understanding of a particular philosophical issue in which the concept is involved (Beaney 2003). For example, the problem of free will in philosophy involves various key concepts, including the concepts of freedom, moral responsibility, determinism, ability, etc. The method of conceptual analysis tends to approach such a problem by breaking down the key concepts pertaining to the problem and seeing how they interact. Thus, in the long-standing debate on whether free will is compatible with the doctrine of determinism, several philosophers have proposed analyses of the relevant concepts to argue for either compatibilism or incompatibilism.

A famous author of conceptual analysis at its best is Bertrand Russell's theory of descriptions. Russell attempted to analyze propositions that involved definite descriptions (such as "The tallest spy"), which pick out a unique individual, and indefinite descriptions (such as "a spy"), which pick out a set of individuals. Take Russell's analysis of definite descriptions as an example.[1] Superficially, definite descriptions have the standard subject-predicate form of a proposition. For example, "The present king of France is bald" appears to be predicating "baldness" of the subject "the present king of France". However, Russell noted that this is problematic, because there is no present king of France (France is no longer a monarchy). Normally, to decide whether a proposition of the standard subject-predicate form is true or false, one checks whether the subject is in the extension of the predicate. The proposition is then true if and only if the subject is in the extension of the predicate. The problem is that there is no present king of France, so the present king of France cannot be found on the list of bald things or non-bald things. So, it would appear that the proposition expressed by "The present king of France is bald" is neither true nor false. However, analyzing the relevant concepts and propositions, Russell proposed that what definite descriptions really express are not propositions of the subject-predicate form, but rather they express existentially quantified propositions. Thus, "The present king of France" is analyzed, according to Russell's theory of descriptions, as "There exists an individual who is currently the king of France, there is only one such individual, and that individual is bald." Now one can determine the truth value of the proposition. Indeed, it is false, because it is not the case that there exists a unique individual who is currently the king of France and is bald—since there is no present king of France (Bertolet 1999).


While the method of analysis is characteristic of contemporary analytic philosophy, its status continues to be a source of great controversy even among analytic philosophers. Several current criticisms of the analytic method derive from W.V. Quine's famous rejection of the analytic–synthetic distinction. While Quine's critique is well-known, it is highly controversial.

Further, the analytic method seems to rely on some sort of definitional structure of concepts, so that one can give necessary and sufficient conditions for the application of the concept. For example, the concept "bachelor" is often analyzed as having the concepts "unmarried" and "male" as its components. Thus, the definition or analysis of "bachelor" is thought to be an unmarried male. But one might worry that these so-called necessary and sufficient conditions do not apply in every case. Wittgenstein, for instance, argues that language (e.g., the word 'bachelor') is used for various purposes and in an indefinite number of ways. Wittgenstein's famous thesis states that meaning is determined by use. This means that, in each case, the meaning of 'bachelor' is determined by its use in a context. So if it can be shown that the word means different things across different contexts of use, then cases where its meaning cannot be essentially defined as 'married bachelor' seem to constitute counterexamples to this method of analysis. This is just one example of a critique of the analytic method derived from a critique of definitions. There are several other such critiques (Margolis & Laurence 2006). This criticism is often said to have originated primarily with Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations.

A third critique of the method of analysis derives primarily from psychological critiques of intuition. A key part of the analytic method involves analyzing concepts via "intuition tests". Philosophers tend to motivate various conceptual analyses by appeal to their intuitions about thought experiments. (See DePaul and Ramsey (1998) for a collection of current essays on the controversy over analysis as it relates to intuition and reflective equilibrium.)

In short, some philosophers feel strongly that the analytic method (especially conceptual analysis) is essential to and defines philosophy—e.g. Jackson (1998), Chalmers (1996), and Bealer (1998). Yet, some philosophers argue that the method of analysis is problematic—e.g. Stich (1998) and Ramsey (1998). Some, however, take the middle ground and argue that while analysis is largely a fruitful method of inquiry, philosophers should not limit themselves to only using the method of analysis.

See also


  1. ^ Note that this explication is only of a part of Russell's theory of descriptions and is quite brief and oversimplified.


  • Bealer, George. (1998). "Intuition and the Autonomy of Philosophy". In M. DePaul & W. Ramsey (eds.) (1998), pp. 201–239.
  • Beaney, Michael. (2003). "Analysis". The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (link).
  • Bertolet, Rod. (1999). "Theory of Descriptions". Entry in The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, second edition. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Chalmers, David. (1996). The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • DePaul, M. & Ramsey, W. (eds.). (1998). Rethinking Intuition: The Psychology of Intuition and Its Role in Philosophical Inquiry. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
  • Foley, Richard. (1999). "Analysis". Entry in The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, second edition. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Jackson, Frank. (1998). From Metaphysics to Ethics: A Defense of Conceptual Analysis. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Margolis, E. & Laurence, S. (2006). "Concepts". The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (link).
  • Ramsey, William. (1998). "Prototypes and Conceptual Analysis". In M. DePaul & W. Ramsey (eds.) (1998), pp. 161–177.
  • Stich, Stephen. (1998). "Reflective Equilibrium, Analytic Epistemology, and the Problem of Cognitive Diversity". In DePaul and Ramsey (eds.) (1998), pp. 95–112.
  • Wittgenstein, Ludwig (1953). Philosophical Investigations.

External links

  • Beaney, Michael. "Analysis". In Zalta, Edward N. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  • "Concepts" - an article by Margolis & Laurence in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (section 5 is a good, but short, presentation of the current issues surrounding conceptual analysis in philosophy).
  • "Analytic Philosophy" - an article by Aaron Preston in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  • "Water's water everywhere" by Jerry Fodor - a review of C. Hughes's book Kripke: Names, Necessity and Identity at the London Review of Books (Fodor goes into several issues regarding the philosophical method of analysis).
1971 in philosophy

1971 in philosophy

Analysis (disambiguation)

Analysis is the process of observing and breaking down a complex topic or substance into smaller parts to gain a better understanding of it.

Analysis may also refer to:

Analysis (journal), a major international journal of philosophy

Analysis (radio programme), a half-hour BBC Radio 4 documentary programme

Data analysis

Market analysis, the study of the attractiveness and the dynamics of a market within an industry

Mathematical analysis

Complex analysis

Real analysis

Philosophical analysis

Political feasibility analysis


Análisis Filosófico

Análisis Filosófico is a peer-reviewed biannual open access academic journal that publishes scholarly articles on theoretical and practical philosophy "in order to contribute to philosophical analysis development." The journal was established in 1981 as the official journal of the Argentine Society of Analytic Philosophy. The first editor-in-chief of Análisis Filosófico was the Argentine philosopher Eduardo Rabossi. It is available online through SciELO and is indexed in the Philosopher's Index.

The journal, albeit being published in Argentina, is open to contributions from other countries.

Bimal Krishna Matilal

Bimal Krishna Matilal (1935–1991) was an Indian philosopher whose influential writings present the Indian philosophical tradition as a comprehensive system of logic incorporating most issues addressed by themes in Western philosophy. From 1977 to 1991 he

was the Spalding Professor of Eastern Religion and Ethics at the University of Oxford.

Do Animals Have Rights? (book)

Do Animals Have Rights? is a 1998 non-fiction book by Dr Alison Hills from the University of Bristol. The book explores the ethics of factory farming, animal experimentation and other issues involving animals from a philosophical analysis.

Frank Harold Cleobury

Frank Harold Cleobury (November 6, 1892 - March 25, 1981) was British idealist philosopher and priest.

Cleobury was born in London. He joined the British Civil Service in 1908. He studied philosophy and theology and obtained his BA (1932) and PhD (1941) from

University of London. He was a conscientious objector and joined the Friends' Ambulance Unit. In 1950, he retired from public service as a principal in the administrative grade. He became an ordained priest in the Church of England in 1951. He was Rector of Hertingfordbury until his retirement in 1964.Cleobury was influenced by the idealism of A. E. Taylor, Bernard Bosanquet and F. H. Bradley. He held the view that idealism was compatible with Christianity and provided a basis for religious belief. His book Christian Rationalism and Philosophical Analysis argued for a natural theology that was influenced by George Berkeley. He used arguments from idealism to defend theism against "20th century philosophical analysis." He wrote articles for the The Philosopher, the journal of The Philosophical Society of England and served as President (1962-1977).

Grandfather paradox

The grandfather paradox is a paradox of time travel in which inconsistencies emerge through changing the past. The name comes from the paradox's common description: a person travels to the past and kills their own grandfather before the conception of their father or mother, which prevents the time traveller's existence. Despite its title, the grandfather paradox does not exclusively regard the contradiction of killing one's own grandfather to prevent one's birth. Rather, the paradox regards any action that alters the past, since there is a contradiction whenever the past becomes different from the way it was.

Index of analytic philosophy articles

This is a list of articles in analytic philosophy.

A. C. Grayling

A.P. Martinich

Abstract particulars


Alfred Jules Ayer


Analytic-synthetic distinction

Analytic philosophy

Analytic reasoning

Arda Denkel

Arthur Danto

Australian Realism

Avrum Stroll


Berlin Circle

Bernard Williams

Bertrand Russell


Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon

C. D. Broad

Cahiers pour l'Analyse

Carl Gustav Hempel

Ramsey sentence

Charles Sanders Peirce

Chinese room

Cognitive synonymy

Contemporary Pragmatism

Contrast theory of meaning

Cooperative principle

Cora Diamond

Daniel Dennett

Darwin's Dangerous Idea

David Braine (philosopher)

David Kellogg Lewis


Descriptivist theory of names


Direct reference theory

Doctrine of internal relations

Donald Davidson (philosopher)

Doxastic logic

Elbow Room (book)

Elliott Sober


Ernst Mach

Eternal statement

F. C. S. Schiller

Family resemblance

Felicity conditions

Form of life (philosophy)

Frank P. Ramsey

Freedom Evolves

Friedrich Waismann

G. E. M. Anscombe

George Edward Moore

Gilbert Ryle

Gottlob Frege

Gricean maxims

Gustav Bergmann

Hans Hahn

Hans Reichenbach

Hans Sluga

Harvey Brown (philosopher)

Herbert Feigl


Hypothetico-deductive model

Indeterminacy of translation

Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy

Isaiah Berlin

J. L. Austin

Jeff Malpas

Jerry Fodor

John Hick

John Rawls

John Searle

John Wisdom

Jules Vuillemin

Karl Menger

Kit Fine

Kurt Grelling

Kwasi Wiredu

Language, Truth, and Logic

Logical atomism

Logical form

Logical positivism

Lorenzo Peña

Ludwig Wittgenstein

Mark Addis

Mark Sacks

Max Black

Mental representation

Metaphor in philosophy

Michael Dummett

Michael Tye (philosopher)

Modal realism

Moritz Schlick

Naming and Necessity

Nelson Goodman



Norman Malcolm

Oets Kolk Bouwsma

Olaf Helmer

Olga Hahn-Neurath

On Certainty

On Denoting

Ordinary language philosophy

Original proof of Gödel's completeness theorem

Ostensive definition

Otto Neurath

P. F. Strawson

Paradox of analysis

Paul Churchland

Paul Grice

Per Martin-Löf

Peter Hacker

Peter Simons

Philipp Frank

Philippa Foot

Philosophical analysis

Philosophical Investigations

Philosophy of engineering

Philosophy of technology

Pieranna Garavaso

Postanalytic philosophy


Principia Ethica

Principia Mathematica

Private language argument

Process philosophy

Radical translation

Richard von Mises

Robert Audi

Rose Rand

Round square copula

Rudolf Carnap

Rupert Read

Ryle's regress

Speech act

Stephen Laurence

Susan Stebbing

The Bounds of Sense

The Logic of Scientific Discovery

The Mind's I

Theodore Drange

Þorsteinn Gylfason

Tore Nordenstam

Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus

Two Dogmas of Empiricism

UCLA Department of Philosophy

Use–mention distinction

Verification theory


Victor Kraft

Vienna Circle

Wilfrid Sellars

Willard Van Orman Quine

William James Lectures

William L. Rowe

William W. Tait

Wolfgang Stegmüller

Word and Object

Zeno Vendler

Logical consequence

Logical consequence (also entailment) is a fundamental concept in logic, which describes the relationship between statements that hold true when one statement logically follows from one or more statements. A valid logical argument is one in which the conclusion is entailed by the premises, because the conclusion is the consequence of the premises. The philosophical analysis of logical consequence involves the questions: In what sense does a conclusion follow from its premises? and What does it mean for a conclusion to be a consequence of premises? All of philosophical logic is meant to provide accounts of the nature of logical consequence and the nature of logical truth.

Logical consequence is necessary and formal, by way of examples that explain with formal proof and models of interpretation. A sentence is said to be a logical consequence of a set of sentences, for a given language, if and only if, using only logic (i.e. without regard to any personal interpretations of the sentences) the sentence must be true if every sentence in the set is true.

Logicians make precise accounts of logical consequence regarding a given language , either by constructing a deductive system for or by formal intended semantics for language . The Polish logician Alfred Tarski identified three features of an adequate characterization of entailment: (1) The logical consequence relation relies on the logical form of the sentences, (2) The relation is a priori, i.e. it can be determined with or without regard to empirical evidence (sense experience), and (3) The logical consequence relation has a modal component.

Mandeville's paradox

Mandeville's paradox is named after Bernard Mandeville, who posits that actions which may be qualified as vicious with regard to individuals have benefits for society as a whole. This is alluded to in the subtitle of his most famous work, The Fable of The Bees: ‘Private Vices, Public Benefits’. He states that "Fraud, Luxury, and Pride must live; Whilst we the Benefits receive.") (The Fable of the Bees, ‘The Moral’).

The philosopher and economist Adam Smith opposes this (although he defends a moderated version of this line of thought in his theory of the invisible hand), since Mandeville fails, in his opinion, to distinguish between vice and virtue (The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Part VII, Section II, Chapter 4 (‘Of licentious systems’)).

New riddle of induction

Grue and bleen are examples of logical predicates coined by Nelson Goodman in Fact, Fiction, and Forecast to illustrate the "new riddle of induction" – a successor to Hume's original problem. These predicates are unusual because their application is time-dependent; many have tried to solve the new riddle on those terms, but Hilary Putnam and others have argued such time-dependency depends on the language adopted, and in some languages it is equally true for natural-sounding predicates such as "green." For Goodman they illustrate the problem of projectible predicates and ultimately, which empirical generalizations are law-like and which are not.

Goodman's construction and use of grue and bleen illustrates how philosophers use simple examples in conceptual analysis.

Opposite Day

Opposite Day refers to a game usually played by children. One can declare that today is Opposite Day (sometimes retroactively) to indicate something which will be said, or has just been said should be understood opposite to its original meaning (similar to the practice of crossed fingers to automatically nullify promises).

The game has also been compared to a children's "philosophy course."

Quantifier variance

The term quantifier variance refers to claims there is no uniquely best ontological language with which to describe the world. According to Hirsch, it is an outgrowth of Urmson's dictum:

“If two sentences are equivalent to each other, then while the use of one rather than the other may be useful for some philosophical purposes, it is not the case that one will be nearer to reality than the other...We can say a thing this way, and we can say it that way, sometimes...But it is no use asking which is the logically or metaphysically right way to say it.”

The term "quantifier variance" rests upon the philosophical term 'quantifier', more precisely existential quantifier. A 'quantifier' is an expression like "there exists at least one ‘such-and-such’".


Schadenfreude (; German: [ˈʃaːdn̩ˌfʁɔʏ̯də] (listen); lit. 'harm-joy') is the experience of pleasure, joy, or self-satisfaction that comes from learning of or witnessing the troubles, failures, or humiliation of another. It is one of four related emotions or concepts.

Schadenfreude is a complex emotion, where rather than feeling sympathy towards someone's misfortune, schadenfreude evokes joyful feelings that take pleasure from watching someone fail. This emotion is displayed more in children than adults, however adults also experience schadenfreude, they are just better at concealing their expressions.

Scott Soames

Scott Soames (; born August 11, 1946) is an American philosopher. He is a professor of philosophy at the University of Southern California. He specializes in the philosophy of language and the history of analytic philosophy. He is well known for defending and expanding on the program in the philosophy of language started by Saul Kripke as well as being a major critic of two-dimensionalist theories of meaning.


Tattvacintāmaṇi is a treatise in Sanskrit authored by 12th-century CE Indian logician and philosopher Gangesa Upadhyaya (also known as Gangesvara Upadhyaya). The title may be translated into English as "A Thought-jewel of Truth." The treatise is also known as Pramāṇa-cintāmaṇi ("A Thought-jewel of Valid Knowledge").The treatise introduced a new era in the history of Indian logic. Satis Chandra Vidyabhusana in his authoritative 681-page history of Indian logic divided the millennia long history of Indian logic into three sometimes overlapping periods: Ancient period (650 BCE – 100 CE), Medieval period (100 CE – 1200 CE) and Modern period (from 900 CE). He also identified certain standard work as typical representative of each of these periods. Tattvacinthamani of Gangesa is the text identified as the standard work of the Modern period in the history of Indian logic, the standard works for the earlier periods being Nyāya Sūtra by Akṣapāda Gautama (Ancient period) and Pramāṇa-samuccaya by Dignāga (Medieval period). The fact that Tattvacintāmaṇi was highly popular is attested by the appearance of a large number of commentaries that have been produced in the centuries that followed the appearance of the book. It has been estimated that while the original text of Tattvacintāmaṇi has about 300 pages, all the commentaries put together contain about a million pages.


Wealth is the abundance of valuable financial assets or physical possessions which can be converted into a form that can be used for transactions. This includes the core meaning as held in the originating old English word weal, which is from an Indo-European word stem. A community, region or country that possesses an abundance of such possessions or resources to the benefit of the common good is known as wealthy.

Net worth is defined as the current value of one's assets less liabilities (excluding the principal in trust accounts). An individual possessing a substantial net worth is known as wealthy.

The modern concept of wealth is of significance in all areas of economics, and clearly so for growth economics and development economics, yet the meaning of wealth is context-dependent. At the most general level, economists may define wealth as "anything of value" that captures both the subjective nature of the idea and the idea that it is not a fixed or static concept. Various definitions and concepts of wealth have been asserted by various individuals and in different contexts. Defining wealth can be a normative process with various ethical implications, since often wealth maximization is seen as a goal or is thought to be a normative principle of its own.The United Nations definition of inclusive wealth is a monetary measure which includes the sum of natural, human, and physical assets. Natural capital includes land, forests, energy resources, and minerals. Human capital is the population's education and skills. Physical (or "manufactured") capital includes such things as machinery, buildings, and infrastructure.

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