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What Philosophers Know: Case Studies in Recent Analytic Philosophy Hardcover – Bargain Price, April 27, 2009

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Hardcover, Bargain Price, April 27, 2009
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Editorial Reviews


'This series of case studies of problems and advances in philosophical thinking argues effectively that philosophy can make progress and that philosophers do have distinctive substantial knowledge. The treatment is excellent: sophisticated and of interest to experts while also clearly-written and engaging for readers generally.' David Sosa, University of Texas at Austin

Book Description

Based on detailed case studies of major achievements in recent analytic philosophy, this book both provides a lucid survey of the work of major figures such as Quine, Kripke, Rawls, and Rorty and shows how their work offers a substantive body of philosophical knowledge that even non-philosophers cannot ignore.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (April 27, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521856213
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521856218
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,296,765 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Gary Gutting is a distinguished academic philosopher and a major contributor to public discussions of philosophical questions.

He has taught for many years at the University of Notre Dame, where he holds the John A. O'Brien Chair in Philosophy. He is the author of seven academic books and editor of five others, and has published over forty articles. His main areas of research are philosophy of science, philosophy of religion, and twentieth-century French philosophy.

For a wider audience, he is the author of Foucault: A Very Short Introduction, a volume that has been translated into 7 languages.

Since June, 2011, he has been a regular contributor to the New York Times philosophy blog, The Stone, publishing over about columns and interviews. Other work for the Times includes analyses of the 2012 Presidential Debates for "Campaign Stops" and essays in the Sunday Review. His recent book, What Philosophy Can Do, contains essays on politics, science, religion, education, and art that expand on his Stone columns.

He has been interviewed on a number of radio and television broadcasts, including National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" (with Richard Harris on climate policy), Canadian Broadcasting Television's "Lang & O'Leary Exchange" (gun control), Sirius Radio's "StandUp with Peter Dominick" (gun control), Cyberstation USA (religion and politics), and Al-Jazeera English TV (with Bob Reynolds on extraterrestrial life).

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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By R. S. Kownslar on May 14, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Gary Gutting in "What Philosophers Know: Case Studies in Recent Analytic Philosophy", doesn't argue directly against the typical criticisms leveled at analytic philosophy (for example, that it seems an endless exercise in technical hair-splitting far removed from any important human concerns). But he does offer support for the intuition that deep and clear insights articulated by the best analytic philosophy have indeed produced something that can be considered disciplinary knowledge, and that this knowledge is under-appreciated outside, and also within, the ranks of philosophy.

Gutting proceeds via a case-history approach, passing through Quine, Kripke, Gettier, Plantinga, Chalmers, Kuhn, Rawls, Rorty, and others. A major pleasure of the book is the clarity with which he presents these selected highlights from the most recent half-century of Anglophone philosophy. His project is to show that despite the lack of compelling knockout arguments for any of the specific positions advanced by these thinkers, we can still appreciate the progress and accumulation of knowledge they achieved, if only we look from the right perspective. The wrong perspective is what Gutting terms "philosophical foundationalism", which he defines as being willing to accept as philosophical knowledge only "valid deductive arguments from obviously true premises", immune to every conceivable counter-example or edge-case. The right perspective is rather to accept the role that intuitions and pre-philosophical convictions play in the premises of philosophical arguments, and appreciate the detailed "persuasive elaboration" that good argument articulates, especially the fundamental distinctions that this elaboration can produce; distinctions that then become available for all to use and build upon.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Atwater on July 9, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In this well-written, informative, and stimulating exercise in metaphilosophy, Gary Gutting argues that "there is a body of disciplinary philosophical knowledge achieved by (at least) analytic philosophers of the last fifty years."(2) Philosophers, Gutting argues, " have expert knowledge about a large and important domain of conceptual (or linguistic) distinctions."(241) "Exemplary pieces of philosophy" produced by Quine, Kripke, Gettier, and others have "generated important philosophical knowledge."(4) This knowledge is important not simply for technical reasons, but because (and Gutting had this retired philosophy prof cheering at this point) those without access to it "will be severely limited in the essential reflective dimension of human existence."(2)

Gutting distinguishes second-order and first-order philosophical truths. Second-order truths are about the prospects of general philosophical "pictures," such as empiricism or theism. These truths have been established by way of "persuasive elaboration," showing what we can do with various ideas.(89) This has been done without theoretical formulation, as in the case of Quine's holism, or with it, as in the case of Goldman's reliabilism. (The tendency is to move in the direction of theoretical elaboration.) Thus, I take it, one second-order philosophical truth is: Epistemological holism and reliabilism are worth further theoretical elaboration.(76, 81)

First-order philosophical truths are about the subject matter of philosophical pictures. Typically, these truths concern the nature of fundamental distinctions (e.g., analytic-synthetic, naming-describing, knowledge-true opinion).
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By maverick909 on February 8, 2011
Format: Paperback
Excellent. You will learn that philosophers have not made substantive progress on the "big questions" (why does anything exist? Is there a God? Do we have life after death), but they have made genuine progress on conceptual issues important to such enterprises as science and religion. You will also learn that philosophical arguments are less "rigorous" than one might have thought and instead rely on underlying intuitions fleshed out by examples. It is well-written and eye-opening.
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