Gillian Russell

Philosophy Professor

Phil 502 : ProSeminar : History of Analytic Philosophy (Fall 2011)

Course website:
Class Times: Tuesdays 2.30-5.30pm
Class Location: Wilson Hall, Fireplace room

Instructor: Gillian Russell
Email: grussell – at – artsci – dot – wustl – dot – edu
Office Hours: Thursday 2.30-3.30pm or by appointment, Wilson Hall 209

Course Description:

This course will be a broad introduction to some of the central themes and theories of analytic philosophy in the 20th century. It is open to all and only first year graduate students in philosophy and will present many opportunities to develop skills in writing and giving presentations.


The two main books for the course will be:

  • Philosophical Analysis in the Twentieth Century: volume 1 : The Dawn of Analysis – Scott Soames (Princeton University Press, 2003)

  • Philosophical Analysis in the Twentieth Century: volume 2: The Age of Meaning – Scott Soames (Princeton University Press, 2003)

Assigned reading each week will include 1-3 chapters from these books, plus some original writings from the subjects of those chapters.
Many of these items are on the ares site for the course, which you can find here: (I will be emailing you the password.) An exception is Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, which we’ll read in full. I’ve put it on 2 hour physical reserve at Olin Library, but you might find it more convenient to buy your own.


August 30th – Moore and Common-Sense

“A Defence of Common Sense" – G.E. Moore
(on ares)
Soames v.1, Ch1 & 2 "Common Sense and Philosophical Analysis" and "Moore on Skepticism, Perception and Knowledge"

September 6th – Moore and the Good

Chapter 1 of Principia Ethica – G.E. Moore
S1 Ch 3 & 4 "Moore on Goodness and the Foundation of Ethics" and "The Legacies and Lost Opportunities of Moore’s Ethics"

September 13th – Russell and Logical Form

“Knowledge by Acquaintance and Knowledge by Description” – B. Russell
Soames v.1 Ch 5 & 6 "Logical Form, Grammatical Form and the Theory of Descriptions" and "Logic and Mathematics, the Logicist Reduction"
(I’m inclined to think there is a good chance that you’ve all read Russell’s “On Denoting” before, but if you somehow missed it, it would be a good idea to look at that for this week:

September 20th – Russell and the External World

Pages 35-123 of The Philosophy of Logical Atomism – B. Russell
Soames v1 Ch7 & 8 “Logical Constructions and the External World” and “Russell’s Logical Atomism”

September 27th – The Tractatus

Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus – L. Wittgenstein.
Soames v.1 Chs 9, 10 & 11. "The Metaphysics of the Tractatus," "Meaning, Truth and Logic in the Tractatus" and "The Tractarian Test of Inteligability and its Consequences"

October 4th – Logical Positivism

“Empiricism, Semantics and Ontology” – R. Carnap
Soames v.1 Chs 12 & 13 "The Logical Positivists on Necessity and A priori Knowledge" and "The Rise and Fall of the Empiricist Criterion of Meaning"

October 11th – Quine’s "Two Dogmas"

“Two Dogmas of Empiricism” – W.V.O. Quine
Soames v.1 Chs 16 & 17 "The analytic and the synthetic, the necessary and the possible, the apriori and the aposteriori," "Meaning and Holistic Verificationism"

October 18th – Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations

Sections 1-133, 143-155, 179-202 and 243-315 from the Philosophical Investigations – L Wittgenstein.
S2 Chs 1 and 2 "Rejection of the Tractarian Conception of Language and Analysis" and "Rule following and the Private Language Argument"

October 25th – Classics of Ordinary Language Philosophy (1)

"Perception" – G. Ryle
"Truth" – P.F. Strawson
Soames v.2 Chs 3 & 5. "Ryle’s Dilemas," "Strawson’s Performative Theory of Truth"

November 1st – Classics of Ordinary Language Philosophy (2)

"Moore and Ordinary Language" – Norman Malcolm,
Soames v.2 Chs 7 & 8 “Malcom’s Paradigm Case Argument”

November 8th – The End of Ordinary Language Philosophy

“The Logic and Conversation" – P. Grice
Soames v.2 Ch 9 "Language Use and the Logic of Conversation"

November 15th – Quine and the Indeterminacy of Translation

S2, Ch 10. "The Indeterminacy of Translation"
“Translation and Meaning” from Word and Object – W.V.O. Quine.

November 22nd – Davidson’s Theory of Meaning

"Truth and Meaning" – Donald Davidson
Soames v.2 ch 12 “Theories of Truth as Theories of Meaning”

November 29th – Kripke’s Naming and Necessity

Lectures I and II of Naming and Necessity – Saul Kripke
Soames v.2 chs 14 & 15 "Names, Essence and Possibility" and "The Necessary A priori."

December 6th – Wrap up week

Reading: "Must do better" from The Philosophy of Philosophy – Timothy Williamson


One of the goals of the proseminar is to give you many opportunities to hone your philosophical skills. We will focus on three: i) giving 10 minute presentations, ii) presenting someone else’s position clearly in a 1000 words and iii) outlining a philosophical paper in which you argue for a thesis of your own (a series of bullet points covering at most two sides.) Each week, up to and including November 1st, you will have to do one of these, based on the reading for that week. We will set up a rotating schedule. (That’s 9 weeks, so you will end up doing 3 10-minute presentations, writing 3 short expository papers and outlining 3 philosophy papers. In the final 5 weeks of the course you’ll turn one of your outlines into a short term paper of 3-4000 words, due on the last day of class.

40% of the grade for the course will come from the final term paper. The other 60% will come from averaging your best two presentations, expository papers and paper outlines (i.e. your worst grade for each will be dropped, and the rest will count 10% each.)

Academic Misconduct

Students suspected of plagiarism or any other form of academic dishonesty or misconduct will be reported to the academic integrity officer for Arts and Sciences, so that the incident may be handled in a consistent, fair manner, and so that substantiated charges of misconduct may be noted in students’ records.

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