PHIL 218: Analytic Philosophy and Science

Instructor: Lars Enden

Objectives and Content

The analytic movement developed around the turn of the 20th-century as a result of increasing dissatisfaction among some philosophers with the dominant philosophical tradition of the time. New developments in logic and linguistic analysis allowed this group of philosophers to engage in a new style of critique of the old regime. Out of this critique, analytic philosophy was born. Although analytic philosophy lives on in our own time, in this course, we will study analytic philosophy as an historical movement. We will begin with the early years of analytic philosophy, and we will study its development up until around 1970. We will be especially interested in the ways analytic philosophy has affected and been affected by advances in science and technology. We will accomplish this by focusing our attention on some of the great thinkers of the early analytic movement, and we will test our wn ideas against them with open in-class debates and writing exercises.



  • Classics of Analytic Philosophy edited by Robert Ammerman
  • Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus by Ludwig Wittgenstein
  • I will provide all other required texts on Moodle.

Recommended (but not required) Text

  • A Brief History of Analytic Philosophy by Stephen P. Schwartz à

Graded Work

Reading Questions [20 x 10 points each = 200 points (40% of final grade)]

For every class, except the first, there are reading questions available on our Moodle site. Responses to these questions must be typed and brought with you to class. Reading questions cannot be turned in through email or by any other student. You must turn in your reading questions in person during class. Additionally, you are invited to update your answers during class. Any updated (hand-written) answers can earn back up to half of the points lost on your original (typed) answers. Your lowest seven scores will not be counted in your final grade.

Take-Home Exams [2 x 75 points each = 150 points (30% of final grade)]

There will be two take-home exams. The first exam will be devoted to the early movement in analytic philosophy (the linguistic turn) and will be due around mid-term; the other exam will be devoted to later developments in analytic philosophy (logical positivism and reactions to it) and will be due at the end of the term. You can work with other students on the exams, but the writing you turn in must be your own, and your grade will be determined solely based on your own writing.

Philosophical Reflections [30 x 3 points each = 90 points (18% of final grade)]

At least once (and sometimes twice) during each class, we will take a few minutes to write down some ideas about a particular question. These are graded as pass/fail. These will help you focus your attention, work through your ideas, and test your understanding.

Participation [30 days x 2 points per day = 60 points (12% of final grade)]

Each class period, you have the opportunity to gain two points for participation. One point is for attendance (show up on time and stay until the end). The other point is for engagement (be an active participant in classroom activities). The easiest way to lose your engagement point for the day is by using your phone during class.

Grading Scale [500 points total]

  • 465–500 = A
  • 450–464 = A-
  • 435–449 = B+
  • 415–434 = B
  • 400–414 = B-
  • 385–399 =C+
  • 365–384 = C
  • 350–364 = C-
  • 335–349 = D+
  • 315–334 = D
  • 300–314 = D-
  • 299-0 = F

Classroom Policies

No Electronic Devices

All laptops, cell phones, etc. must be silenced and stored away before class begins. A cell phone in your lap is not properly stored. If I see you using any electronic device at any time during class, you will automatically lose your engagement point for the day. I may or may not inform you of this fact.

Absences, Late Work and Office Hours

In general, work can only be turned in during class time. Therefore, if you are not in class, then:

  • You lose all participation points for the day (2 points),
  • You cannot do the philosophical reflection exercise(s) (3-6 points), and
  • You cannot turn in the reading questions (10 points).

However, if both of the following are true:

  • You let me know before class begins you will miss the class, and
  • You meet with me in office hours no more than a week after the missed class so we can get you caught up.

then you receive the following benefits:

  • You get your engagement point back
  • You can do the philosophical reflection exercise(s) for full credit.

Note: You still lose your attendance point for not being in class, and you still cannot turn in your reading questions. But remember, your lowest seven grades for reading questions are dropped for your final grade.


We will be discussing many debatable issues in this class; you may have strong opinions about them, and some of your peers may not agree with you. However, it is important everyone feels they are welcome to contribute to the conversation. So, it is important the we all remain respectful at all times. Remember, in philosophy, we criticize ideas; we do not criticize people. Any student who acts in a disrespectful manner will simply be asked to leave.

Academic Honesty

This course operates under the College Honor System. I expect all students to adhere to the honor system.

If you believe a specific accommodation may be appropriate for you, please contact the student development office. They can evaluate your specific accessibility needs and provide you with a letter detailing the accommodations appropriate for you.

General Advice

  • Take your education seriously
  • You will probably only get one chance at college; don’t waste it. Remember your reasons for being here!
  • Always come to class
  • The ultimate key to success in this class is attendance and participation. Do not skip this class unless you absolutely must, and, while you are in class, pay attention, take good notes, ask questions, and contribute to the discussion.

Keep reading

You will probably find the reading to be difficult. Please do not give up on the reading just because you don’t understand it right away. Just keep reading even if you are not sure you understand it. You probably understand more than you think, and you will get better at reading difficult texts the more you practice it. The reading questions in this class are worth more than anything else precisely because I want to encourage you to work hard at understanding what you are reading. It is not easy, but do not give up. Just keep going.

Have an opinion

I will never tell you what I think about any of the issues we will be discussing in this course. What I think is not important. Part of your responsibility in this course is to think through the issues for yourself. So, go ahead and give yourself the luxury of having an opinion. Try to avoid saying or thinking things like, “Well, who is to say what is right or wrong?” I am asking what you think, so you get to say.

Be willing to change your mind

Your classmates will be sharing their thoughts with you about these issues. Try to keep an open mind to their ideas when they conflict with what you think. Part of what we are trying to do is to determine which answers are backed up by the best reasons. We cannot accomplish this if we always just stick with our initial opinions. Honest philosophers do not think they have it all figured out; they are willing to listen to reasons and to change their minds when they encounter good reasons to do so.


Week One:

  • Monday: Precursors: Hume/Kant
  • Wednesday: Precursors: Bradley
  • Friday: The Linguistic Turn: Frege 1

Week Two:

  • Monday: The Linguistic Turn: Frege 2
  • Wednesday: The Linguistic Turn: Russell 1
  • Friday: The Linguistic Turn: Russell 2

Week Three:

  • Monday: The Linguistic Turn: Russell 3
  • Wednesday: The Linguistic Turn: Moore 1
  • Friday: The Linguistic Turn: Moore 2

Week Four:

  • Monday: The Linguistic Turn Early: Wittgenstein 1
  • Wednesday: The Linguistic: Turn Early: Wittgenstein 2
  • Friday: The Linguistic Turn Early: Wittgenstein 3

Week Five:

  • Monday: Logical Positivism: Ayer 1
  • Wednesday: Logical Positivism: Ayer 2
  • Friday: Logical Positivism: Carnap

Week Six:

  • Monday: Logical Positivism: Hempel
    • First Exam Due
  • Wednesday: Logical Positivism: Popper
  • Friday: Analytic Pragmatism: Quine 1

Week Seven:

  • Monday: Analytic Pragmatism: Quine 2
  • Wednesday: Analytic Pragmatism: Quine 3
  • Friday: Analytic Pragmatism: Goodman

Week Eight:

  • Monday: Ordinary Language: Kuhn
  • Wednesday: Ordinary Language Later: Wittgenstein 1
  • Friday: Ordinary Language Later: Wittgenstein 2

Week Nine:

  • Monday: Memorial Day No Class
  • Wednesday: Ordinary Language: Ryle
  • Friday: Ordinary Language: Strawson / Russell

Week Ten:

  • Monday: Ordinary Language: Grice & Strawson
  • Wednesday: Ordinary Language: Austin
  • Friday: Extra Day for DOGL

Finals Week:

  • Monday: Second Exam Due



Optional reading

  • Hume / Kant: excerpts from An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding & Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics [Moodle]
  • Bradley: “Reality and Thought” (1888) [Moodle]

The Linguistic Turn

  • Frege 1: excerpt from Begriffsschrift and The Foundations of Arithmetic (1884) [Moodle]
  • Frege 2: “On Sense and Reference” (1892) [Moodle]
  • Russell 1: “Descriptions” (1905) [Classics 1]
  • Russell 2: “What There Is” (1918) [Classics 2]
  • Russell 3: “Characteristics of Mental Phenomena” (1921) [Classics 3]
  • Moore 1: “A Defense of Common Sense” (1925) [Classics 4]
  • Moore 2: “Proof of an External World” (1939) [Classics 5]
  • Early Wittgenstein 1: Tractatus Preface-Prop 3 (1921)
  • Early Wittgenstein 2: Tractatus Prop 4 (1921)
  • Early Wittgenstein 3: Tractatus Props 6-7 (1921)

Logical Positivism

  • Ayer 1: “The Elimination of Metaphysics” (1936) [Classics 7.I]
  • Ayer 2: “The Principle of Verification” (1946) [Classics 7.II]
  • Carnap: “Empiricism, Semantics, and Ontology” (1950) [Moodle]
  • Hempel: “Problems and Changes in the Verifiability Criterion of Meaning” (1950) [Classics 10]
  • Popper: excerpt from Conjectures and Refutations (1963) [Moodle]

Analytic Pragmatism

  • Quine 1: “Two Dogmas of Empiricism” (1950) [Classics 9]
  • Quine 2: “On What There Is” (1948) [Moodle]
  • Quine 3: “Epistemology Naturalized” (1969) [Moodle] Goodman: “The New Riddle of Induction” (1955) [Moodle]
  • Kuhn: excerpt from The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962) [Moodle]

Ordinary Language Philosophy

  • Later Wittgenstein 1: Moore’s Wittgenstein’s Lectures I (1933) [Classics 11, Part I]
  • Later Wittgenstein 2: Moore’s Wittgenstein’s Lectures III (1933) [Classics 11, Part III]
  • Ryle: “Descartes’ Myth” & “Psychology” (1949) [Classics 13]
  • Strawson/Russell: “On Referring” & “Mr. Strawson on Referring” (1950/1959) [Classics 14-15]
  • Grice & Strawson: “In Defense of a Dogma” (1956) [Classics 16]
  • Austin: “A Plea for Excuses” (1956) [Classics 18]