Dogmas of Empiricism
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Level: Graduate
Division: The New School for Social Research
Department: Philosophy
Course Number: GPHI 6130
Course Format: Lecture
Location: NYC campus
Permission Required: No
  • Social Sciences
  • Philosophy
This lecture course is a focused survey of the last half-century of analytic philosophy.  It is structured around the emergence of a distinctive genre of critique within analytic philosophy, one with recognizably Kantian and Hegelian origins.  This genre is made up out of a series of moments in which analytic philosophers have critiqued their contemporaries for being committed to problematic tenets of traditional empiricism: that is, they have critiqued their contemporaries for being dogmatic empiricists.  The moments that make up this genre include Quine's criticisms of the analytic/synthetic distinction and reductionism; Geach's criticism of abstractionism; Chomsky’s criticism of empiricist accounts of language learning; Strawson's and Evans's criticism of empiricist accounts of the objective purport of thought; Sellars's criticisms of foundationalism and the Myth of the Given; Austin's criticism of sense data; Davidson's criticism of scheme/content dualism; Rorty's criticism of the absolute conception of the world; Putnam's criticism of individualism; Evans's criticism of the idea that causation suffices for reference; and Brandom's criticism of the idea that perceptual experience plays an explanatory role in making sense of judgments based on observation.  With these criticisms in view, we will be well-positioned to consider the larger question that they raise: namely, whether they show that empiricism, as such, should be rejected (as Davidson, Rorty, and Brandom argue), or whether the rejection of these dogmas is precisely what shows us how to articulate a defensible form of empiricism (as Quine, Evans, and McDowell argue).
Course Open to: Degree Students with Restrictions


Not open to Undergraduate students.