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Minimalism

David Pears, 19 February 1987

A.J. Ayer 
by John Foster.
Routledge, 307 pp., £12, October 1985, 9780710206022
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Voltaire 
by A.J. Ayer.
Weidenfeld, 182 pp., £14.95, September 1986, 0 297 78880 9
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Fact, Science and Morality: Essays on A.J. Ayer’s ‘Language, Truth and Logic’ 
edited by Graham Macdonald and Crispin Wright.
Blackwell, 314 pp., £27.50, January 1987, 0 631 14555 9
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... Philosophy’s critics have a variety of criteria from which to choose. The first question to ask about any philosopher’s claims is whether they are true. But there are other questions which sometimes crowd this one out. Is his work accessible and persuasive? Does it touch our lives? Will it last? With so many options there is no pretending that it is obvious what counts as success ...

How many grains make a heap?

Richard Rorty: After Kripke, 20 January 2005

Philosophical Analysis in the 20th Century. Vol. I: The Dawn of Analysis 
by Scott Soames.
Princeton, 432 pp., £15.95, February 2005, 9780691122441
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Philosophical Analysis in the 20th Century. Vol. II: The Age of Meaning 
by Scott Soames.
Princeton, 504 pp., £15.95, March 2005, 0 691 12312 8
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... gathered together, they are not sufficient to make a heap of sand.’ Some philosophers, such as Crispin Wright, respond to this paradox in the spirit of Wittgenstein. They argue that (as Soames puts it) ‘the rules governing ordinary vague predicates simply do not allow for sharp and precise lines dividing objects to which the predicates apply from ...

Frege and his Rivals

Adam Morton, 19 August 1982

Frege: Philosophy of Language 
by Michael Dummett.
Duckworth, 708 pp., £28, May 1981, 0 7156 1568 8
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The Interpretation of Frege’s Philosophy 
by Michael Dummett.
Duckworth, 621 pp., £35, September 1981, 0 7156 1540 8
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Frege: An Introduction to his Philosophy 
by Gregory Currie.
Harvester, 212 pp., £20, June 1982, 0 85527 826 9
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... can emerge periodically to throw out a sharp non-interpretative idea: Berna Williams on Descartes, Crispin Wright on Wittgenstein; before either of them, P.F. Strawson on Kant. Dummett is not the first to see Frege’s suitability for this role: twenty years ago, in Three Philosophers, Elizabeth Anscombe and Peter Geach treated Frege alongside Aristotle ...

Who Runs Britain?

Christopher Hitchens, 8 December 1994

The Enemy Within: MI5, Maxwell and the Scargill Affair 
by Seumas Milne.
Verso, 352 pp., £18.95, November 1994, 0 86091 461 5
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... Labour administration in the bare-faced Special Branch framing of two of my journalist colleagues (Crispin Aubrey and Duncan Campbell – two of the then-celebrated ‘ABC’ defendants) and had written several editorials about torture in Ulster when Roy Mason was Callaghan’s minister for the Province and a Yorkshire area-sponsored NUM Member of ...

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