Varieties of Conceptual Analysis

Analytic Philosophy (forthcoming)
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What exactly does conceptual analysis consist in? Is it empirical or a priori? How does it support philosophical theses, and what kinds of thesis are these? There is no consensus on these questions in contemporary philosophy. This paper aims to defend conceptual analysis by showing that it comprises a number of different methods and by explaining their importance in philosophy. After setting out an initial dilemma for conceptual analysis, the paper outlines a minimal ecumenical account of concepts, as well as an account of concept possession and concept employment. On the basis of these accounts, the paper then argues that there are both empirical and a priori forms of conceptual analysis, and that each can be defended as legitimate methods. The philosophical interest of conceptual analysis, however, resides in relying on all three types of method in the service of answering philosophical concerns. This is illustrated by three sample cases.
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