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Online course materials for PHIL20241

20th Century Analytical Philosophy

Unit code: PHIL20242
Credit Rating: 20
Unit level: Level 2
Teaching period(s): Semester 2
Offered by Philosophy
Available as a free choice unit?: N



Additional Requirements

Pre-Requisites: 20 PHIL credits at Level 1

20 PHIL credits at Level 1.


The course aims to:

- provide an understanding of the nature and development of the analytical tradition in philosophy

- provide historical background for some of the contemporary debates in the analytical tradition

- help students to understand some of the central writings in the tradition

- introduce students to some of the techniques and methods associated with the analytical tradition in philosophy


Analytical philosophy has become the dominant tradition in contemporary philosophy and yet it is scarcely a century old. In this course we will explore the meteoric rise of this philosophical tradition. We will study some of the historical conditions and some of central figures that gave birth to it during its classic phase in the early decades of the 20th century, and some of the important problems, methods, techniques and principles that shaped it during the later periods of the 20th century and that continue to shape it in the 21st. Particular emphasis will be laid upon the use of symbolic logic as a tool of clarification and analysis. Topics and figures covered will vary from year to year and may include (but are not limited to): Absolute Idealism, Gottlob Frege, G. E. Moore, Bertrand Russell, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Logical Positivism (Rudolf Carnap, A. J. Ayer), Ordinary Language Philosophy (J. L. Austin, Gilbert Ryle, H. P. Grice, P.F. Strawson), W. V. Quine, Richard Rorty, Saul Kripke, Donald Davidson, Hilary Putnam, David Lewis. The course provides excellent background for the following advanced courses: PHIL 30252 Wittgenstein and PHIL30311 Philosophy of Language.

Teaching and learning methods

One 2-hour lecture/discussion and one 1-hour tutorial weekly

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this course unit, students will be able to demonstrate:
- familiarity with different strands of philosophy in the analytical tradition

- appreciation of (some of) the major issues discussed in this tradition

- informed criticism of (some of) the most important positions taken on these issues

- familiarity with the nature of (some of) the techniques and methods associated with the tradition as well as their scope and limits

Employability skills

  • Analytical skills
  • Group/team working
  • Innovation/creativity
  • Oral communication
  • Problem solving
  • Research
  • Written communication

Assessment methods

  • Written exam - 67%
  • Written assignment (inc essay) - 33%

Recommended reading

Bertrand Russell, 'The Philosophy of Logical Analysis', final chapter of Russell’s
History of Western Philosophy (London: Allen & Unwin, 1946).
John Skorupski, English-Language Philosophy 1750-1945 (Oxford, 1993).
Anthony Kenny, A New History of Western Philosophy, Volume 4: Philosophy in the Modern World (Oxford, 2007)

Feedback methods

The School of Social Sciences (SoSS) is committed to providing timely and appropriate feedback to students on their academic progress and achievement, thereby enabling students to reflect on their progress and plan their academic and skills development effectively. Students are reminded that feedback is necessarily responsive: only when a student has done a certain amount of work and approaches us with it at the appropriate fora is it possible for us to feed back on the student's work. The main forms of feedback on this course are written feedback responses to assessed essays and exam answers.

We also draw your attention to the variety of generic forms of feedback available to you on this as on all SoSS courses. These include: meeting the lecturer/tutor during their office hours; e-mailing questions to the lecturer/tutor; asking questions from the lecturer (before and after lecture); presenting a question on the discussion board on Blackboard; and obtaining feedback from your peers during tutorials.

Study hours

  • Lectures - 20 hours
  • Tutorials - 10 hours
  • Independent study hours - 170 hours

Teaching staff

Thomas Uebel - Unit coordinator

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