Metaphilosophy: History and Perspectives

Epistemology and Philosophy of Science 56 (2):6-18 (2019)
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In this paper I discuss a prehistory of the recent metaphilosophical research and provide an overview of its most important areas. I review the ways of understanding of philosophy by the authors of the Early Modernity and contemporary continental philosophers and outline a trajectory of metaphilosophical discussions in analytic philosophy of 20th century. I try to show that the recent surge of metaphilosophy research in it could be explained by a search for a new identity of analytic philosophy after wide disappointment in the “linguistic turn,” as well as after criticism of Quine and his followers of various aspects of the common method of conceptual analysis, and expansion of the field of inquiry. I argue that contemporary analytic philosophy is much closer to the classical and modern tradition than to the early analytic philosophy. And the most important question for contemporary metaphilosophers seems to be a question about possible substitutes of an old-fashioned conceptual analysis. Some authors propose to get rid of armchair methods at all and follow experimental line of research. This, however, could be destructive to the philosophy as a separate discipline. That’s why it is important to pay utmost attention to those philosophers who try to save armchair philosophy. As Timothy Williamson is one of the most interesting authors working in this vein, I asses his role in the recent metaphilosophical research. I give a brief review of his book “Doing Philosophy” (2018) and draw attention to the fact that its main ideas are briefly expressed in his paper “Armchair Philosophy”, published in this issue of the journal. I claim that the importance of Timothy Williamson’s work is best explained by its role in realizing that philosophers now have to make a hard choice between dissolving philosophical methodology in methods of experimental sciences and trying to find way of justification of armchair philosophy.



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Vadim Vasilyev
Moscow State University

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