1st Edition

What Is Philosophy? A First-Person Perspective

By Richard Fumerton Copyright 2023
    188 Pages
    by Routledge

    188 Pages
    by Routledge

    As philosophy departments attempt to define their unique value amid program closures in the humanities and the rise of interdisciplinary research, metaphilosophy has become an increasingly important area of inquiry. Richard Fumerton here lays out a cogent answer to the question asked in the book’s title, What Is Philosophy?. Against those who argue that philosophy is not sharply distinguishable from the sciences, Fumerton makes a case for philosophy as an autonomous discipline with its own distinct methodology.

    Over the course of nine engaging and accessible chapters, he shows that answering fundamental philosophical questions requires one to take a radical first-person perspective that divorces the truth conditions of philosophical claims from the kind of contingent truths investigated by the empirical sciences. Along the way, Fumerton briefly discusses the historical controversies that have surrounded the nature of philosophy, situating his own argument within the larger conversation.

    Key Features

    • Illuminates the unique role of thought experiments and especially the "paradox of analysis" in understanding the purpose and value of philosophy
    • Shows that philosophy asks fundamental questions, unanswerable by the sciences, that are critical to thinking clearly and rationally about the world
    • Highlights the distinct character of philosophical questions in specific subject areas: philosophy of language, epistemology, ethics, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of science
    • Concludes by making a unique case for philosophy’s contribution to cross-disciplinary work in ethics, politics, mathematics, and the empirical sciences
    • Written in a way to be engaging and accessible for advanced undergraduate readers

    Part I: How to Approach Metaphilosophy

    1. Introduction

    2. The Paradox of Analysis and Methodological Solipsism

    3. What’s Left?

    Part II: Ilustrating the View—Mapping Clear Borders

    4. Philosophy of Language

    5. Epistemology and Metaepistemology

    6. Ethics and Rationality/Metaethics and Meta-rationality

    7. Philosophy of Mind

    8. Philosophy of Science and Metaphysics

    9. The Relevance of Philosophy Proper


    Richard Fumerton is the F. Wendell Miller Professor of Philosophy at the University of Iowa. He is the author of, among other books, Realism and the Correspondence Theory of Truth (2002), Epistemology (2006), Mill (co-authored with Wendy Donner) (2009), Knowledge, Thought and the Case for Dualism (2013), and A Consequentialist Defense of Libertarianism (2021). With Diane Jeske, he has also edited Philosophy Through Film (2009), and An Introduction to Political Philosophy (2012).