Contemporary Analytic Philosophy is a fourth-year class for advanced undergraduates. I teach the course historically, as a survey of the history of 20th Century Analytic Philosophy of Language. I begin with some background in 19th century British Empiricism and Hegelianism, and then begin the central part of the course with G. E. Moore and Bertrand Russell. The course then transitions into a discussion of Logical Positivism, including Wittgenstein, Ayer, and Carnap, which is followed by the turn to Ordinary Language Philosophy, first with Wittgenstein and others at Cambridge, and then the Oxford Ordinary Language philosophers associated with J. L. Austin, leading up until H. P. Grice. We then complete the course with a study of Quine, Davidson, and Kripke. The course emphasizes questions over what epistemological and metaphysical commitments are required to make our sentences true and appropriate to assert, and in particular the relationship between aprioricity, necessity, and analyticity. The class does not focus on topics in Ethics. The course includes a substantial term paper requirement in addition to regular essay exams and writing assignments, with significant readings both of primary and secondary sources, and the time commitment for the course is much greater than most other courses. The course is intended for philosophy majors approaching graduation who have already completed substantial background in philosophy, including background in main ideas in metaphysics and epistemology, and sufficient background in logic and argumentation is essential to success in the course.
"It was very refreshing to be treated like an adult for once and be given the freedom to direct the course in the direction I'm most interested." (Fall 2016 Student)
"The extensiveness of the course was one of my favorite parts. I feel like I have a pretty good understanding of a wide scope of subject matter. " (Fall 2016 Student)
"Lots of leg work and critical, rigorous analysis required." (Fall 2016 Student)