Type JournalArticle
Date 1992-07
Volume 29
Number 3
Tags philosophy
Journal American Philosophical Quarterly
Pages 267--277

The Possibility of Conceptual Clarity in Philosophy

It is unquestionably perverse to suggest that philosophers can succeed in classically revising their concepts by handing them over to scientists. But the world is sometimes perverse. Further, if Russell is correct, philosophers have no choice in the matter: part of their raison d'etre is to bequeath useful concepts to science.


The attempt to analyze and clarify concepts is a trademark of Western philosophy. And this is how it should be. Given the relatively non-empirical nature of the philosophical endeavor, philosophers must be concerned with the state of their primary instruments--language and the concepts expressed by language. The aim of this paper is to make sense of a pattern of argumentation typically employed in the effort to clarify philosophically important concepts. The upshot will be that only by adopting a thoroughgoing naturalism will we have any real chance to achieve the goal of conceptual clarity in philosophy.

Name Role
Michael A. Bishop Author