Stebbing on Clarity


The main aim of this paper is to analyze Susan Stebbing’s views on the nature of clarity in the 1930s. I limit myself to this period because it allows for a contrast between her sophisticated and significant views on what I call ‘the standard conception of clarity’ with her view on ‘democratic clarity’ developed in her (1939) book, *Thinking to Some Purpose*. I contextualize her views with some alternative characterizations of clarity on offer among other early analytic philosophers (including brief discussions of Carnap, Quine, Price, and Nagel). While my focus is on Stebbing, I show, thereby, that in the great age of clarification in early analytic philosophy there were was no clarity or consensus on the nature of clarity. This helps illuminate some of the by now well-known difficulties in treating analytic philosophy as a unified project. The other pay-off of my approach should be the start of taxonomy of the kinds of clarity in early analytic philosophy.

Author's Profile

Eric Schliesser
University of Amsterdam


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