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P.F. Strawson, 19 July 1984

Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation 
by Donald Davidson.
Oxford, 292 pp., £16, March 1984, 9780198246176
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... It has been said that philosophy of language, or the theory of meaning, should be recognised as the foundation of philosophy in general. That claim may reasonably be viewed with the scepticism that any such claim inspires, but it is certainly true that language is, and has long been, a major matter of concern among analytical philosophers, and few have applied themselves to the subject with the tenacity and thoroughness which, over the last twenty years, Donald Davidson has displayed in the influential series of articles now collected in the present volume ...

What can be done

P.F. Strawson, 18 February 1982

Theories and Things 
by W.V. Quine.
Harvard, 219 pp., £8.75, November 1981, 0 674 87925 2
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... In earlier essays, not reproduced in this volume, Quine wrote, ‘Philosophy, or what appeals to me under that head, is continuous with science’; and, more bluntly: ‘Philosophy of science is philosophy enough.’ There are pages in the present collection of 26 papers which seem to invite a still narrower construction of these apparently restrictive remarks: to invite one, in a word, to gloss ‘science’ as ‘physics ...

Gains in Clarity

P.F. Strawson, 4 November 1982

Philosophy in the 20th Century 
by A.J. Ayer.
Weidenfeld, 283 pp., £12.50, September 1982, 0 297 78179 0
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... Philosophy in the 20th century’ or ‘Analytical philosophy in the 20th century’? Ayer is well aware that the two descriptions are not co-extensive. He marks his recognition of the fact by devoting one chapter of his history to Collingwood and another to selected representatives of phenomenology and existentialism. But the rest of his 20th-century pundits are analytical philosophers, and few professionals in the English-speaking world would quarrel with this choice ...

Shoulds and Shouldn’ts

Allan Gibbard: What is blame?, 28 May 2009

Moral Dimensions: Permissibility, Meaning, Blame 
by T.M. Scanlon.
Harvard, 247 pp., £19.95, September 2008, 978 0 674 03178 4
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... to judge these matters correctly. The long final chapter on blame proceeds in this spirit. P.F. Strawson, a half-century ago, in his classic article ‘Freedom and Resentment’, insisted that ‘interpersonal relationships as we normally understand them’ by their very nature expose us to resentment and other ‘reactive attitudes’. Morality, he ...

Ayer, Anscombe and Empiricism

Alasdair MacIntyre, 17 April 1980

Perception and Identity: Essays presented to A.J. Ayer with his replies to them 
edited by G.E. MacDonald.
Macmillan, 358 pp., £15, December 1979, 0 333 27182 3
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Intention and Intentionality: Essays in Honour of G.E.M. Anscombe 
edited by Cora Diamond and Jenny Teichmann.
Harvester, 205 pp., £16.95, December 1979, 0 85527 985 0
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... composed of green grass and round tables? Five of the 12 essayists – Michael Dummett, P.F. Strawson, David Pears, D.M. Armstrong and Charles Taylor – are concerned with these or with closely related questions. Collectively – taken together with those earlier writings of Ayer on which these essays are a commentary and with Ayer’s reply at the end ...

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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... 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 and St Thomas, two philosophers whose usefulness has often been ...

The Sponge of Apelles

Alexander Nehamas, 3 October 1985

The Skeptical Tradition 
by Myles Burnyeat.
California, 434 pp., £36.75, June 1984, 0 520 03747 2
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The Modes of Scepticism: Ancient Texts and Modern Interpretations 
by Julia Annas and Jonathan Barnes.
Cambridge, 204 pp., £20, May 1985, 0 521 25682 8
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Skepticism and Naturalism: Some Varieties 
by P.F. Strawson.
Methuen, 98 pp., £10.95, March 1985, 0 416 39070 6
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Hume’s Skepticism in the ‘Treatise of Human Nature’ 
by Robert Fogelin.
Routledge, 195 pp., £12.95, April 1985, 0 7102 0368 3
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The Refutation of Scepticism 
by A.C. Grayling.
Duckworth, 150 pp., £18, May 1985, 0 7156 1922 5
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The Significance of Philosophical Scepticism 
by Barry Stroud.
Oxford, 277 pp., £15, July 1985, 0 19 824730 3
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... are obvious from the opening pages of Skepticism and Naturalism: Some Varieties, Sir Peter Strawson’s urbane, elegant, and, alas, short new book: ‘The Sceptic is, strictly, not one who denies the validity of certain types of belief, but one who questions, if only initially and for methodological reasons, the adequacy of our grounds for holding ...

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