Monday, March 22, 2004

Carving up philosophy

While appreciating Brian's double-link to me (which I anticipate to result in my biggest hit day ever) my eye fell on a link to one of his old posts, which involves (among other things) the observation that "epistemology and metaphysics" is an often-used disjunctive category of the most non-natural kind. I think I'd read this there back in August and had since forgotten, but the same point came up in a discussion in the philosophy lounge last week (I was talking to Ben, prospective student Kevin, and maybe Jason). I think that a much more sensible carving up of philosophy would look like this: Normative:
  • Ethics
  • Metaethics
  • Epistemology
  • Science
  • Decision Theory
  • Rationality
  • Agency
  • Social & Political
  • Metaphysics
  • Language
  • Logic
  • Mind
  • Perception
Obviously, there'd be occasion for substantial overlap (questions in action theory turn on philosophy of mind or metaphysics of causation, the nature of perception bears heavily on epistemological questions, etc.), but I think this division makes more sense than the category of 'core analytic', which Brian and his commentors react to. On one interpretation of me, I've simply projected most of my philosophical interests into a category and attempted to rationalize a principled distinction. On my favored view, my interests are shaped by recognition of the natural kind that is normative philosophy.

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