Aims and Scope

Philosophical analysis is often considered to be synonymous with conceptual analysis, which in turn is usually associated with a kind of a priori probing of word-meaning that operates largely in the spirit of ordinary language philosophy. A standard account construes conceptual analysis as the decomposition of complex concepts into simpler ones. Criticisms pertaining to issues like the paradox of analysis, the very notion of analyticity, the role of a priori reasoning, the origin of linguistic intuition, or the structure of mental representation have all added to undermining confidence in the merits of conceptual analysis. Yet it seems to remain an important part of philosophical practice.

To restrict the notion of philosophical analysis to the decomposition of concepts would, however, provide an incomplete account of the ways analysis has been put to work in the history of philosophy. Even analytic philosophy, the school of thought whose label indicates its favored methodology, arguably originated in a different sort of philosophical practice – namely, attempts to interpret and transform utterances into a more precise type of language, rather than trying to dismember the constituents of thought based on its linguistic appearance. Still other forms of analysis have been influential in ancient philosophy, when the term denoted the search for first causes or last principles.

As far as the clarification of concepts is concerned, explication is sometimes seen as an alternative means. The notion itself, however, is not exempt from ambiguity, nor is it univocally acclaimed as an appropriate part of investigating philosophically interesting concepts. Given our best account of each of them, should analysis and explication be seen as rivals, complementary parts of some whole or basically rather similar approaches to the same end?

The aim of this workshop is to shed light on historical variations of analytical and explicatory methods within and outside of philosophy as well as their current status. We are seeking to combine historical and systematic perspectives on philosophical methodology and to bring together philosophers and scholars from other fields such as linguistics, psychology and neuroscience in order to achieve a more comprehensive representation of possible views on the improvement of conceptual frameworks as a contribution to epistemic progress.

  • We would like to address questions like: Can we expect conceptual analysis to be more than an auxiliary device to clarify word-meaning for a given discourse-context?
  • Is the standard account of conceptual analysis even predominant in the history of philosophy?
  • Does conceptual analysis rely on unsustainable assumptions about the ontology and structure of concepts?
  • To what extent is conceptual analysis a combination of a priori and empirical procedures?
  • What is the relation between analysis and explication (as defined/ employed by different authors)?
  • Do we make epistemic progress in philosophy via conceptual analysis?
  • What are the roles of conceptual analysis and explication outside of philosophy?