Philosophical Employment: History and Prospects
Dacey, Austin, Free Inquiry
During the first half of the twentieth century, most philosophers in the English-speaking world maintained a delicate division of labor between themselves and their colleagues in the science departments. Central to the division was a distinction between so-called contingent, or "synthetic" claims, and necessary, or "analytic" claims. Contingent claims were understood as assertions about reality that in principle are subject to revision in the face of new evidence, such as "Tom is a bachelor." Analytic claims were understood as assertions--like "All bachelors are unmarried"--that merely reflect our rules governing the meanings of terms, and therefore say nothing about the extra-linguistic world.
Within the then-dominant school of logical empiricism or logical positivism, synthetic claims were placed under the exclusive purview of the sciences. It was thought that, by limiting philosophy to the analysis and clarification of the logical structure of language, we could purge it of barren metaphysics--such as unverifiable speculation about the nature of causation or the freedom of the will--and thereby boost the discipline's productivity. Philosophy's job was not to tell us what things are like, but to tell us what we mean by things.
By mid-century, however, this job description began to undergo substantial modification. In …
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Publication information: Article title: Philosophical Employment: History and Prospects. Contributors: Dacey, Austin - Author. Magazine title: Free Inquiry. Volume: 21. Issue: 2 Publication date: Spring 2001. Page number: 27. © 1999 Council for Democratic and Secular Humanism, Inc. COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group.
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