Ethical and Religious Thought in Analytic Philosophy of Language

Quentin Smith

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This book is the first to provide a critical history of analytic philosophy from its inception in the late nineteenth century to the present day. Quentin Smith focuses on the connections between the four leading movements in analytic philosophy—logical realism, logical positivism, ordinary language analysis, and linguistic essentialism—and corresponding twentieth-century theories of ethics and of religion. Through a critical evaluation of each school’s theoretical positions, Smith counters the widespread view of analytic philosophy as indifferent to important questions about right and wrong and human meaning. He argues that analytic philosophy throughout its history has revolved around the central issues of existence, and he offers a new ethics and philosophy of religion.

The author develops a positive ethical theory based on a method of ethics first formulated by Robert Adams. Smith’s theory belongs to the tradition of perfectionism or self-realization ethics and builds on Thomas Hurka’s recent theory of perfectionism. In his consideration of philosophy of religion, Smith concludes that there is a sound "logical argument from evil" that takes into account Alvin Plantinga’s free-will defense and undermines monotheism, paving the way to a naturalistic pantheism.

Quentin Smith is philosophy professor at Western Michigan University and co-editor of The New Theory of Time, published by Yale University Press.

"Smith's book is original not only in intent but frequently in the detailed argument involved in evaluating the merits of the philosophies of language and their implications for ethics and philosophy of religion."—John F. Post, Vanderbilt University

"Smith's beautiful and well-documented book does justice to the extension and depth of analytic philosophy by showing that theories of the ethical or religious meaning of human life follow directly from the methods of linguistic analysis used by many analytic philosophers."—Robert Dell'Oro, Theological Studies

"Positively refreshing."—Michael Levine, Australian Journal of Philosophy

"This is a tightly and well-written book which offers detailed discussion, deals lucidly with its material and engages the reader. . . . Fascinating and engaging. It was refreshing to read a well written book, which leads the reader clearly through the argument presented."—Erich von Dietze, Philosophy in Review


ISBN: 9780300062120
Publication Date: April 20, 1998
272 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
The New Theory of Time

Edited and with an introduction by L.

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