Edited by Jonathan Ichikawa (University of British Columbia)
About this topic
Summary Metaphilosophy is the philosophical study of philosophy itself; just as the philosophy of language is the philosophical study of language or the philosophy of time is the philosophical study of time, the philosophy of philosophy is the philosophical study of philosophy. Central questions include questions about the nature of philosophical inquiry--for instance, are we attempting to discover objective truths about the external world, or is philosophy concerned with something more mind-dependent, like understanding words or concepts?--and questions about the epistemology of philosophy--for instance, how (if at all) is armchair philosophical knowledge possible, and what is the bearing of empirical science on philosophy?
Key works An influential entry point into the literature here is Williamson 2007, which defends a nonskeptical approach to philosophy according to which it is continuous with nonphilosophical inquiry. For a more traditional, rationalist approach, see Jackson 1998. The exchange between Goldman 2007 and Kornblith 2007 provides a good exemplar of the debate about the proper subject matter of philosophy.
Introductions The literature on metaphilosophy typically occurs at a relatively advanced level; unlike many other philosophical subdisciplines, the study of philosophy requires significant antecedent familiarity with much of philosophy, so it is not particularly well-suited to introductory treatments. However, Rosenberg 1984 is one influential introductory text.
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History/traditions: Metaphilosophy
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