P. F. Strawson

Strawson, Peter Frederick

Peter Frederick Strawson, 1919–, British philosopher, grad. Oxford. An influential spokesman for so-called ordinary language philosophy, he began teaching at Oxford in 1947 and from 1968 to 1987 was Waynflete Professor of Metaphysics. In an early article, "On Referring" (Mind, 1950), he disputed Bertrand Russell's theory of definite descriptions, drawing a distinction between referring to an entity and asserting its existence. He also disputed, on linguistic grounds, the correspondence theory of truth, maintaining that a "fact" is not something that corresponds to a true statement but something stated; facts are not something to which statements refer, rather "facts are what statements (when true) state." In his first book, Introduction to Logical Theory (1952), Strawson studied the relationship between common language and the language of formal logic. Later his concern shifted to what he calls descriptive metaphysics, a description of the actual structure of our thought about the world. His development of and work in this area revived interest in metaphysics as a respectable philosophic enterprise. Strawson's other works include Individuals (2d ed. 1965), The Bounds of Sense (1966), Logico-Linguistic Papers (1971), and Freedom and Restraint (1974).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

P. F. Strawson: Selected full-text books and articles

The Philosophy of P.F. Strawson By Lewis Edwin Hahn Open Court, 1998
Skepticism and Naturalism: Some Varieties By P. F. Strawson Columbia University Press, 1985
Entity and Identity: And Other Essays By P. F. Strawson Clarendon Press, 1997
Contemporary Readings in Logical Theory By Irving M. Copi; James A. Gould Macmillan, 1967
Librarian’s tip: "On Referring" by Peter Frederick Strawson begins on p. 105
The Revolution in Philosophy By W. C. Kneale; G. A. Paul; D. F. Pears; R. A. Wollheim; P. F. Strawson; A. J. Ayer; G. J. Warnock St. Martin's Press, 1956
Librarian’s tip: "Construction and Analysis" by P. F. Strawson begins on p. 97
Language and Ontology By Jack Kaminsky Southern Illinois University Press, 1969
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "The Ontology of P. F. Strawson"
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