Gillian Russell

Philosophy Professor

Phil 432: Beginnings of Analytic Philosophy

Class times Mondays 3-5.30pm, Caldwell 213

Course Website:

Course Instructor:

  • Professor Gillian Russell
  • Office hours: Mondays 11am-noon, Wednesdays noon-1pm.
  • Office Location: Caldwell Hall, 203
  • Email: gillian UNDERSCORE russell AT unc DOT edu

This is a 400 level undergrad/grad course in the history of analytic philosophy. We will study some of the central themes and theories of analytic philosophy in the 20th century, starting with Moore and Russell at Cambridge, and proceeding through Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, the Vienna Circle and Logical Positivism, Tarski, Ordinary Language Philosophy, Grice, Davidson and Kripke. The course will offer opportunities to develop skills in reading and writing philosophy.


The assigned readings for the course are listed in the syllabus below and most will be made available online (either with a link from this page or – if marked “(e)” – via our library course reserves site, which you can access through Sakai.)

One exception is Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, which we will read in full for our third class. I didn’t ask the campus book store to get copies of this, but you can easily order it from online booksellers, or borrow it from the library. If you read German and would like a copy with the German and English translation side-by-side, I recommend this version:

If you don’t read German, it will be cheaper to get this version, which uses the same C.K. Ogden translation as the text above:

I recommend reading the book itself before reading Bertrand Russell’s introduction. That way you can see for yourself whether you think the introduction is fair.

Many of the readings will be primary sources, but I will also suggest some secondary material for you to look at.

23rd January: Moorean Epistemology

G. E. Moore – “In Defence of Common Sense” (e)
G. E. Moore – “Proof of an External World” (e)
(these articles were also emailed to everyone enrolled in the class on 1/2/17)

30th January: Russell’s Logical Atomism

B. Russell – Selections from The Philosophy of Logical Atomism (e)

Also recommended:
S. Stebbing – “The Method of Analysis in Metaphysics”

6th February: Wittgenstein’s Tractatus

L. Wittgenstein – Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (see note above)

13th February: Logical Positivism

Selections from A.J. Ayer – Language, Truth, and Logic (e)
C. Hempel – “Problems and Changes in the Empiricist Criterion of Meaning” (e)

Also recommended:
R. Carnap – “Empiricism, Semantics and Ontology” (e)
R. Carnap – “Meaning and Synonymy in Natural Languages (e)

20th February: The Semantic Conception of Truth

A. Tarski – “The Semantic Conception of Truth” (e)

27th February: Quine on Analyticity and Verificationism

W.V. Quine – “Two Dogmas of Empiricism”(e)

Also recommended:
W.V. Quine – “Truth by Convention” (e)
W.V. Quine – “Carnap and Logical Truth (e)

6th March: Wittgenstein’s Investigations

Selections from Philosophical Investigations(e)

13th March: Spring break!

20th March: field trip!

Class will be to attend my talk to the prospective graduate students from 3-5pm in the philosophy department.

27th March – Ordinary Language Philosophy (I)

Austin – selections from How to do things with words (e)
Ryle – excerpts from Dilemmas (e)

3rd April – Ordinary Language Philosophy (II)

P.F. Strawson – “Truth” (e)
N. Malcolm – “Is Moore an Ordinary Language Philosopher?” (e)

10th April – Grice and Implicature

Excerpt from H.P. Grice – “Logic and Conversation” (e)
Chapter 9 of Soames’ Philosophical Analysis in the 20th Century volume 2: The Age of Meaning, “Language Use and the Logic of Conversation” (e)

17th April – Quine on Meaning

W.V. Quine – chapter 2 of Word and Object (e)
S. Soames – “The Indeterminacy of Translation and the Inscrutability of Reference” (e)

24th April- Davidson on Meaning

D. Davidson – “Truth and Meaning” (e)
D. Davidson – “Radical Interpretation” (e)


1. If you are an undergraduate student…

Assessment will be by way of three short papers (500 words/2 pages each) and one long one (2000 words or approximately 8 pages – in lieu of a final exam). There are no exams. I will give out prompts for all four papers, but you may also write on a question of your own provided you agree it with me first.

Assignment Length Due Date
Paper 1 500 wrds/2 pages 13th February 20%
Paper 2 500 wrds/2 pages 6th March 20%
Paper 3 500 wrds/2 pages 27th March 3rd April 20%
Paper 4 2000 wrds/8 pages Monday 24th April 40%

2. If you are a graduate student in philosophy…

You will write one research paper on a topic of your choice, due on the last day of classes.

3. Others…

If you are neither an undergraduate student nor a graduate student in philosophy, but you would still like a grade for the course, you may choose either of the assessment tracks 1 and 2 above. Please free to come and talk to me about the advantages and disadvantages of each option.

Honor Code

All students must be familiar with and abide by the Honor Code, which covers issues such as plagiarism, falsification, unauthorized assistance or collaboration, cheating, and other grievous acts of academic dishonesty. Violations of the Honor Code will not be taken lightly.

The Center for Student Success and Academic Counselling

Located in the Student Academic Services Building, the CSSAC offers support to all students through units such as the Learning Center and the Writing Center.

Reasonable Accommodations Policy

Any student in this course who has a disability that may prevent them from fully demonstrating their abilities should contact Disability Services as soon as possible to discuss accommodations.