Metaphilosophy : An Inquiry Concerning the Nature of Philosophy
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What are the proper aims and methods of philosophy? What is philosophy trying to accomplish, and how does it go about accomplishing it? A survey of the history of philosophy and current discussions regarding its aims and methods shows that philosophers radically disagree about the nature of philosophical inquiry. Part of the reason for this observation is that the aims and methods of philosophy are themselves philosophical topics. My task in meta-philosophy is to understand the nature of philosophy given that there is no distinct subject matter, and its aims and methods are subject to philosophical dispute; philosophy is an essentially divided discipline. Philosophers today and throughout history have supposed that philosophy is a scientific discipline; however, if my thesis is correct, philosophy cannot be a science. The first step is to appreciate the diversity of philosophical aims and methods; some aims and methods in philosophy directly contradict each other. Unlike science, which proceeds on the basis of a general universal methodology, philosophy is incapable of making scientific progress due to a radical methodological controversy at the very heart of the discipline. I recommend that, instead of attempting to merge with the aims and methods of science, philosophy should distinguish itself from science, and be understood as a different kind of discipline altogether. Once we reject the scientific meta-philosophical conception of philosophy, we can begin speculating and reconstructing the identity of philosophy from within philosophy itself.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
CommitteePfeifer, Karl; Alward, Peter
Copyright DateDecember 2015