About this topic
Summary Conceptual analysis is one of the main traditional methods of philosophy, arguably dating back to Plato's early dialogues. The basic idea is that questions like 'What is knowledge?', 'What is justice?', or 'What is truth?' can be answered solely on the basis of one's grasp of the relevant concepts. The ideal result of a conceptual analysis would be a definition or analysis of the relevant X that is typically formulated as a necessary biconditional that states necessary and sufficient conditions for being X. For example, a typical formulation of the classical analysis of knowledge as justified true belief is: S knows that p iff (1) p is true, (2) S believes that p, and (3) S is justified in believing that p. Here, conditions (1) to (3) state individually necessary and jointly sufficient conditions for knowing that p. The standard procedure for testing such an analysis is by means of counterexamples, typically in the form of hypothetical cases as they are used in thought experiments. A counterexample may speak against the necessity of some of the conditions, or against the sufficiency of the conditions. For example, the classical analysis of knowledge was refuted by Gettier's (1963) famous counterexamples against the sufficiency of conditions (1) to (3). In such a situation, the analysis has to be refined until it is no longer subject to counterexamples, in which case it would constitute a successful conceptual analysis. Almost all of the elements of this traditional conception of conceptual analysis are controversial, but it still continues to guide a considerable amount of philosophical research.
Key works A good statement of the traditional conception of conceptual analysis is Grice's "Postwar Oxford Philosophy" in Grice 1989. Unfortunately, there are not many focussed discussions of the method of conceptual analysis, which often tend to be intertwined with other philosophical issues. Important contributions by some of the main proponents of conceptual analysis in the last few decades are Lewis 1970, Lewis 1994, Strawson 1992, Bealer 1998, Jackson 1998Peacocke 1998Chalmers & Jackson 2001, Goldman 2007, Jenkins 2008, Henderson & Horgan 2011, and Chalmers 2012. Critical discussions that bear on the method of conceptual analysis can be found in Putnam 1970, Putnam 1975, Ramsey 1992, Millikan 1993, Block & Stalnaker 1999, Weinberg et al 2001, Laurence & Margolis 2003, Williamson 2000, Williamson 2007, Kornblith 2007, and Haslanger 2012.
Introductions There is no easy and systematic introduction to conceptual analysis, but the following might be helpful points of entry to the contemporary debate: Grice 1989Strawson 1992Hanna 1998Jackson 1998, Braddon-Mitchell & Nola 2009, Daly 2010, and Kipper 2012.
Related categories

329 found
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  1. added 2018-12-30
    BFO and DOLCE: So Far, So Close….Nicola Guarino - 2017 - Cosmos + Taxis 4 (4):10-18.
    A survey of the similarities and differences between BFO and DOLCE, and of the mutual interactions between Nicola Guarino and Barry Smith.
  2. added 2018-12-25
    Shedding Light on Keeping People in the Dark.Don Fallis - forthcoming - Topics in Cognitive Science.
    We want to keep hackers in the dark about our passwords and our credit card numbers. We want to keep potential eavesdroppers in the dark about our private communications with friends and business associates. This need for secrecy raises important questions in epistemology (how do we do it?) and in ethics (should we do it?). In order to answer these questions, it would be useful to have a good understanding of the concept of keeping someone in the dark. Several philosophers (...)
  3. added 2018-12-25
    Toward a Formal Analysis of Deceptive Signaling.Don Fallis & Peter J. Lewis - forthcoming - Synthese:1-25.
    Deception has long been an important topic in philosophy. However, the traditional analysis of the concept, which requires that a deceiver intentionally cause her victim to have a false belief, rules out the possibility of much deception in the animal kingdom. Cognitively unsophisticated species, such as fireflies and butterflies, have simply evolved to mislead potential predators and/or prey. To capture such cases of “functional deception,” several researchers Machiavellian intelligence II, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 112–143, 1997; Searcy and Nowicki, The (...)
  4. added 2018-12-25
    What is Disinformation?Don Fallis - 2015 - Library Trends 63 (3):401-426.
    Prototypical instances of disinformation include deceptive advertising (in business and in politics), government propaganda, doctored photographs, forged documents, fake maps, internet frauds, fake websites, and manipulated Wikipedia entries. Disinformation can cause significant harm if people are misled by it. In order to address this critical threat to information quality, we first need to understand exactly what disinformation is. This paper surveys the various analyses of this concept that have been proposed by information scientists and philosophers (most notably, Luciano Floridi). It (...)
  5. added 2018-12-04
    Philosophical Methods Under Scrutiny: Introduction to the Special Issue "Philosophical Methods".Anna-Maria A. Eder, Insa Lawler & Raphael van Riel - 2018 - Synthese:1-9.
    This paper is the introduction to the Special Issue “Philosophical Methods”. The Special Issue will be published by Synthese.
  6. added 2018-10-10
    23. For the Best Account Showing What is Gained and/or Lost in Making an Idea Clear.George E. Stack - 1963 - Review of Metaphysics 16 (3):568-571.
  7. added 2018-10-10
    23. For the Best Account Showing What is Gained and/or Lost in Making an Idea Clear.Brennan van Hook - 1963 - Review of Metaphysics 16 (3):571-575.
  8. added 2018-09-12
    Conceptual Analysis for Genealogical Philosophy: How to Study the History of Practices After Foucault and Wittgenstein.Colin Koopman - 2017 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 55 (S1):103-121.
    Inquiry into the history of practices in the manner of Foucault's philosophical genealogy requires that we distinguish between practical action, on the one hand, and mere behavior, on the other. The need for this distinction may help explicate an aspect of Foucault's philosophical genealogy that might otherwise appear misplaced, namely his attention to rationalities and its attendant conceptual material. This article shows how a genealogical attention to practice goes hand in hand with an attention to the role of the conceptual (...)
  9. added 2018-09-06
    Putnam Writing: Argumentative Pluralism and American Irony.Fergal Mchugh - 2014 - Journal of Philosophical Research 39:365-376.
    Putnam’s style is rarely discussed in the secondary literature. In this paper I provide one approach to the kind of writing that philosophy becomes in Putnam’s hands. I focus on Putnam’s argumentative pluralism and, more specifically, the practical form that pluralism takes in Putnam’s commitment to the essay form. I argue that Putnam’s use of the essay form is a crucial expression of his pluralism. Looking at some ancestors of the Putnam essay, I pay attention to the specific hybrid qualities (...)
  10. added 2018-09-03
    Explication.Moritz Cordes & Geo Siegwart - 2018 - Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    This encyclopedia article provides a procedural account of explication outlining each step that is part of the overall explicative effort (2). It is prefaced by a summary of the historical development of the method (1). The latter part of the article includes a rough structural theory of explication (3) and a detailed presentation of an examplary explication taken from the history of philosophy and the foundations of mathematics (4).
  11. added 2018-08-29
    Der Philosophiebegriff im florentinischen Renaissanceplatonismus.Jens Lemanski - 2017 - Archiv für Begriffsgeschichte 49:9-44.
    The paper examines the definitions of the concept ‘philosophy’ resp. ‘the philosopher’ in Florentine renaissance Platonism, namely Marsilio Ficino and his scholar Francesco di Zanobi Cattani da Diacceto. Following Socrates and Pythagoras, Ficino distinguishes between mundane philosophy and divine sapientia. In contrast to his teacher, Diacceto’s Aristotelism rejects the Pythagoreanism and connects philosophy with sapientia. In order to show how the differences between Ficino and Diacceto emerge, three more contemporaries are taken into consideration: Christoforo Landino, Angelo Poliziano and Giovanni Pico (...)
  12. added 2018-08-27
    Review of Edouard Machery, Philosophy Within Its Proper Bounds. [REVIEW]Margot Strohminger - 2018 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 8.
  13. added 2018-08-20
    The Prejudicial Effects of 'Reasonable Steps' in Analysis of Mens Rea and Sexual Consent: Two Solutions.Lucinda Vandervort - 2018 - Alberta Law Review 55 (4):933-970.
    This article examines the operation of “reasonable steps” as a statutory standard for analysis of the availability of the defence of belief in consent in sexual assault cases and concludes that application of section 273.2(b) of the Criminal Code, as presently worded, often undermines the legal validity and correctness of decisions about whether the accused acted with mens rea, a guilty, blameworthy state of mind. When the conduct of an accused who is alleged to have made a mistake about whether (...)
  14. added 2018-08-20
    The Phenomenology of Adolf Reinach: Chapters in the Theory of Knowledge and Legal Philosophy.Lucinda Ann Vandervort Brettler - 1973 - Dissertation, McGill University (Canada)
  15. added 2018-07-20
    Canberra Plan.Nolan Daniel - 2010 - A Companion to Philosophy in Australia and New Zealand.
  16. added 2018-07-11
    Conceptual Analysis and Empirical Data.Petar Bojanić, Samuele Iaquinto & Giuliano Torrengo - 2018 - Rivista di Estetica 69:3-6.
  17. added 2018-06-28
    How Can Analysis Be Informative?Max Black - 1945 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 6 (4):628-631.
  18. added 2018-06-25
    How To Conceptually Engineer Conceptual Engineering?Manuel Gustavo Isaac - manuscript
    Conceptual engineering means to provide a method to assess and improve our concepts working as cognitive devices. But conceptual engineering still lacks an account of what concepts are (as cognitive devices) and of what engineering is (in the case of cognition). And without such prior understanding of its subject matter, or so it is claimed here, conceptual engineering is bound to remain useless, merely operating as a piecemeal approach, with no overall grip on its target domain. The purpose of this (...)
  19. added 2018-06-04
    Modal Insurance: Probabilities, Risk, and Degrees of Luck.Evan Malone - forthcoming - Southwest Philosophical Studies.
    Many widely divergent accounts of luck have been offered or employed in discussing an equally wide range of philosophical topics. We should, then, expect to find some unified philosophical conception of luck of which moral luck, epistemic luck, and luck egalitarianism are species. One of the attempts to provide such an account is that offered by Duncan Pritchard, which he refers to as the modal account. This view commits us to calling an event lucky when it obtains in this world, (...)
  20. added 2018-05-16
    Down the Methodological Rabbit Hole.David Frydrych - 2017 - Crítica. Revista Hispanoamericana de Filosofía 49 (147):41-73.
    This article surveys methodological matters that shape, drive, and plague analytic legal philosophy. Section 2 briefly explicates conceptual analysis, analytic definitions, and family resemblance concepts. It also argues that central cases are used in more than one way. Section 3 presents criticisms of those concepts and methods, and suggests that some of these difficulties are due to the lack of a shared paradigm regarding a counterexample’s impact. Section 4 explains “meta- theoretical” desiderata. It contends that, to date, legal philosophical appeals (...)
  21. added 2018-04-11
    Naturalistic Metaphysics at Sea.Matthew Haug - 2018 - Philosophical Inquiries 6 (1):95-122.
    In this paper I return to the mid-20th-century debate between Quine and Carnap on the status of metaphysics questions with an eye toward advancing contemporary debates about whether naturalists can coherently undertake substantive metaphysical inquiry. Following Huw Price, I take the debate between Quine and Carnap to hinge, in part, on whether human inquiry is functionally unified. However, unlike Price, I suggest that this question is not best understood as a question about the function(s) of descriptive discourse. This goes along (...)
  22. added 2018-02-07
    Der Hermeneutische Zirkel Untersuchungen Zu Schleiermacher, Dilthey Und Heidegger.John Maraldo - 1974
  23. added 2018-01-31
    Frege on Dichtung and Elucidation.Gisela Bengtsson - 2018 - In Gisela Bengtsson, Simo Säätelä & Alois Pichler (eds.), New Essays on Frege: Between Science and Literature. Dordrecht: Springer. pp. 101-119.
    In this paper, I identify an assumption at play in anti-semantic interpretative approaches to Frege: the notion that translatability to Frege’s concept script functions as a criterion for deciding whether a thought is expressed in a sentence or utterance. I question the viability of this assumption by pointing to Frege’s accounts of the aim and character of his logical language and scientific discourse more generally, and by looking at his remarks on poetic forms of language, literature and fiction (Dichtung). Since (...)
  24. added 2018-01-04
    A Conceptual Analysis of Fake News.Nikil S. Mukerji - manuscript
    In this paper, I offer a conceptual analysis of fake news. In essence, I suggest analysing this notion as a species of Frankfurtian bullshit. This construal, I argue, allows us to distinguish it from similar phenomena like bad or biased journalism and satire. First, I introduce four test cases. The first three are, intuitively, not cases of fake news, while the fourth one is. A correct conceptual analysis should, hence, exclude the first three while including the fourth. Next, I go (...)
  25. added 2017-12-11
    Strategic Conceptual Engineering for Epistemic and Social Aims.Ingo Brigandt & Esther Rosario - forthcoming - In Alexis Burgess, Herman Cappelen & David Plunkett (eds.), Conceptual Engineering and Conceptual Ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    Examining previous discussions on how to construe the concepts of gender and race, we advocate what we call strategic conceptual engineering. This is the employment of a (possibly novel) concept for specific epistemic or social aims, concomitant with the openness to use a different concept (e.g., of race) for other purposes. We illustrate this approach by sketching three distinct concepts of gender and arguing that all of them are needed, as they answer to different social aims. The first concept serves (...)
  26. added 2017-11-03
    Аналитическая История Античной Философии (Analytic History of Ancient Philosophy).Marina Volf, Pavel Butakov & Igor Berestov - 2013 - Sententiae 28 (1):96-108.
    The paper discusses the peculiarities of the analytic approach to the history of Ancient philosophy in the context of other, more popular approaches and genres. This approach is based on finding out an implicit argumentation and problems in the philosophical texts, and establishing logical connections between them. The paper also considers the perspectives of application of this approach to patristic texts. In addition, it shows the necessity of formalization and symbolization in the analytic history of philosophy.
  27. added 2017-10-25
    Why the Canberra Plan Won’T Help You Do Serious Metaphysics.Raamy Majeed - forthcoming - Synthese:1-18.
    Jackson argues that conceptual analysis plays a modest, albeit crucial, role in ‘serious metaphysics’: roughly, the project of demystifying phenomena we take to be mysterious by locating them in the natural world. This defence of conceptual analysis is associated with ‘the Canberra Plan’, a philosophical methodology that has its roots in the works of both Lewis :427–446, 1970, Australas J Philos 50:249–258, 1972) and Jackson. There is, however, a distinction to be drawn between conceptual analysis, as it is typically employed (...)
  28. added 2017-10-25
    Conceptual Instability and the New Epistemic Possibility.Raamy Majeed - 2016 - Erkenntnis 81 (3):613-627.
    We tend to think that our concepts are stable in the sense that, whilst their extensions may vary across distinct epistemic scenarios, the reference-fixing conditions by which we discover these extensions remain fixed. This paper challenges this orthodoxy. In particular, it aims to motivate the position that some concepts are unstable in that their reference-fixing conditions themselves vary across distinct epistemic scenarios. Furthermore, it aims to draw out the implications such instability has for epistemic possibility and apriority. I shall argue (...)
  29. added 2017-10-18
    Epistemology Without Concepts? [REVIEW]Santiago Echeverri - 2018 - Metascience 27 (1):117-121.
    Review of Penelope Maddy, What Do Philosophers Do? Skepticism and the Practice of Philosophy (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2017, 248 pp.).
  30. added 2017-10-12
    Chris Daly, An Introduction to Philosophical Methods. [REVIEW]Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa - 2011 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2011.
  31. added 2017-09-25
    Symposium: Does Our Knowledge or Perception of the Ego Admit of Being Analysed?A. Boutwood, H. W. Blunt & G. F. Stout - 1890 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 1 (4):28 - 39.
  32. added 2017-09-21
    Philosophy = Philo Sophos = Love of Wisdom.Ulrich De Balbian - 2017 - SSRN Electronic Journal 3025568 (1):01-85.
    A conceptual exploration of the umbrella notion Wisdom, as well as dimensions, characteristics and components of the idea of wisdom as suggested by experimental philosophy, neurosciences and other studies and a comparison of the notion of wisdom with those of knowledge, truth, insight and understanding. -/- Keywords: philosophy, knowledge, wisdom, truth, Gettier problem, ibnsights, truth, understanding, knowledge, Experimental philosophy, neuroscience of wisdom -/- Suggested Citation: -/- de Balbian, Ulrich, Philosophy = Philo Sophos = Love of Wisdom (August 24, 2017). Available (...)
  33. added 2017-09-14
    Rethinking the Problem of Cognition.Mikio Akagi - 2018 - Synthese 195 (8):3547-3570.
    The present century has seen renewed interest in characterizing cognition, the object of inquiry of the cognitive sciences. In this paper, I describe the problem of cognition—the absence of a positive characterization of cognition despite a felt need for one. It is widely recognized that the problem is motivated by decades of controversy among cognitive scientists over foundational questions, such as whether non-neural parts of the body or environment can realize cognitive processes, or whether plants and microbes have cognitive processes. (...)
  34. added 2017-09-11
    Philosophical Analysis: The Concept Grounding View.Joachim Horvath - 2018 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 97 (3):724-750.
    Philosophical analysis was the central preoccupation of 20th-century analytic philosophy. In the contemporary methodological debate, however, it faces a number of pressing external and internal challenges. While external challenges, like those from experimental philosophy or semantic externalism, have been extensively discussed, internal challenges to philosophical analysis have received much less attention. One especially vexing internal challenge is that the success conditions of philosophical analysis are deeply unclear. According to the standard textbook view, a philosophical analysis aims at a strict biconditional (...)
  35. added 2017-09-05
    KNOWLEDGE, TRUTH, INSIGHT, WISDOM.Ulrich De Balbian - 2017 - Oxford: Academic Publications.
    An exploration of the umbrella notion‭ '‬knowledge‭' ‬and related notions,‭ ‬truth,‭ ‬wisdom,‭ ‬knowing,‭ ‬insights,‭ ‬understanding,‭ ‬perception,‭ ‬etc.‭ ‬The‭ ‬philosophical approach,‭ ‬such as that of Gettier,‭ ‬to this notion.
  36. added 2017-08-25
    PHILOSOPHY = PHILO SOPHOS = LOVE OF WISDOM.Ulrich De Balbian - 2017 - Oxford: Academic Publishers.
    A conceptual exploration of the umbrella notion Wisdom, as well as dimensions, characteristics and components of the idea of wisdom as suggested by experimental philosophy, neurosciences and other studies and a comparison of the notion of wisdom with those of knowledge, truth, insight and understanding. https://www.academia.edu/34339690/PHILOSOPHY_PHILO_SOPHOS_LOVE_OF_WISDOM.
  37. added 2017-06-22
    Logic and Philosophy of Logic in Wittgenstein.Sebastian Sunday Grève - 2018 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 96 (1):168-182.
    This essay discusses Wittgenstein's conception of logic, early and late, and some of the types of logical system that he constructed. The essay shows that the common view according to which Wittgenstein had stopped engaging in logic as a philosophical discipline by the time of writing Philosophical Investigations is mistaken. It is argued that, on the contrary, logic continued to figure at the very heart of later Wittgenstein's philosophy; and that Wittgenstein's mature philosophy of logic contains many interesting thoughts that (...)
  38. added 2017-06-07
    Free Choice: A Self-Referential Argument - Book Review. [REVIEW]Steven James Bartlett - 1979 - Review of Metaphysics (4):738-740.
    A book review of _Free Choice: A Self-referential Argument_ by J. M. Boyle, Jr., G. Grisez, and O. Tollefsen. The review concerns the pragmatical self-referential argument employed in the book, and points to the fact that the argument is itself self-referentially inconsistent, but on the level of metalogical self-reference.
  39. added 2017-06-07
    Théorie de la relativité de la constitution phénoménologique.Steven James Bartlett - 1970 - Dissertation, Universite de Paris X (Paris-Nanterre) (France)
    This is Vol. I in French. Vol. II in English is available separately from this website. -/- The principal objective of the work is to construct an analytically precise methodology which can serve to identify, eliminate, and avoid a certain widespread conceptual fault or misconstruction, called a "projective misconstruction" or "projection" by the author. -/- It is argued that this variety of error in our thinking (i) infects a great number of our everyday, scientific, and philosophical concepts, claims, and theories, (...)
  40. added 2017-05-30
    Review of The Oxford Handbook of Philosophical Methodology. [REVIEW]Matthew Haug - 2017 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 16.
    This is a review of The Oxford Handbook of Philosophical Methodology, edited by Herman Cappelen, Tamar Szabó Gendler, and John Hawthorne.
  41. added 2017-05-09
    Neoclassical Concepts.Derek Leben - 2015 - Mind and Language 30 (1):44-69.
    Linguistic theories of lexical semantics support a Neoclassical Theory of concepts, where entities like CAUSE, STATE, and MANNER serve as necessary conditions for the possession of individual event concepts. Not all concepts have a neoclassical structure, and whether or not words participate in regular linguistic patterns such as verbal alternations will be proposed as a probe for identifying whether their corresponding concepts do indeed have such structure. I show how the Neoclassical Theory supplements existing theories of concepts and supports a (...)
  42. added 2017-05-09
    New Perspectives on Concepts.Julia Langkau & Christian Nimtz (eds.) - 2010 - Rodopi.
    Much recent work on concepts has been inspired by and developed within the bounds of the representational theory of the mind often taken for granted by philosophers of mind, cognitive scientists, and psychologists alike. The contributions to this volume take a more encompassing perspective on the issue of concepts. Rather than modelling details of our representational architecture in line with the dominant paradigm, they explore three traditional issues concerning concepts. Is mastery of a language necessary for thought? Do concepts reduce (...)
  43. added 2017-05-09
    Bealer's Intuitions on Concept Possession.Jaegwon Kim - 1998 - Philosophical Issues 9:303-309.
  44. added 2017-05-05
    Comments on Fisher's.Joe Cruz - unknown
    My first plea has to do with the adequacy of this approach for the diverse purposes that philosophers set out for conceptual analysis. It is unclear what to make of concepts that do not lend themselves to obvious analysis in terms of the sorts of benefits that motivate Fisher’s intuitive cases. Some of the central concepts of philosophy — just the ones that where conceptual analysis ought to be most at home — like Knowledge or Person or Just State are (...)
  45. added 2017-05-05
    On a Class of Concepts.Paul Franceschi - unknown
    Classically, in the discussion relating to polar opposites1, one primarily directs his interest to the common and lexicalized concepts, i.e. for which there exists a corresponding word in the vocabulary inherent to a given language. This way of proceeding tends to generate several disadvantages. One of them resides in the fact (i) that such concepts are likely to vary from one language to another, from one culture to another. Another (ii) of the resulting problems is that certain lexicalized concepts reveal (...)
  46. added 2017-05-05
    Platforms, Patchworks, and Parking Garages: Wilson’s Account of Conceptual Fine‐Structure in Wandering Significance.Robert Brandom - 2011 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 82 (1):183-201.
  47. added 2017-05-05
    Review of David Braddon-Mitchell, Robert Nola (Eds.), Conceptual Analysis and Philosophical Naturalism[REVIEW]Jussi Haukioja - 2009 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2009 (8).
  48. added 2017-05-05
    Two Types of Circularity.I. L. Humberstone - 1997 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 57 (2):249-280.
    For the claim that the satisfaction of certain conditions is sufficient for the application of some concept to serve as part of the (`reductive') analysis of that concept, we require the conditions to be specified without employing that very concept. An account of the application conditions of a concept not meeting this requirement, we call analytically circular. For such a claim to be usable in determining the extension of the concept, however, such circularity may not matter, since if the concept (...)
  49. added 2017-05-05
    Some Elements of Conceptual Structure.Ray Jackendoff - 1993 - In Alvin Goldman (ed.), Readings in Philosophy and Cognitive Science. Cambridge: MIT Press.
  50. added 2017-05-05
    Conceptual Structure.John Campbell - 1986 - In C. Travis (ed.), Meaning and Interpretation. Blackwell.
    in Charles Travis (ed.), Meaning and Interpretation (Oxford and New York: Blackwell 1986), 159-174.
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