Best 20th/21st Century Philosophy Articles

Best 20th/21st Century Philosophy Articles
jposamen
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Posted Mar 3, 2010 - 4:45 PM:
Subject: Best 20th/21st Century Philosophy Articles
I now have access to a nice database of academic journals. Now is a chance to read all those profound, highly influential, heavily cited philosophy essays that I might've missed. I'm looking for suggestions on par with, for example, Quine's Two Dogmas of Empricism, McTaggart's Unreality of Time, or even something less philosophical but still possessing all the aforementioned qualities, such as Coase's The Problem of Social Cost.

If this is too broad, I can always narrow it down, but I'd like to see what responses are like first.
Schlitz
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Posted Mar 3, 2010 - 6:05 PM:

I'm envious! For some of the best mid-to-late-century work in the philosophy of language, check out these by Michael Dummett: "What is a Theory of Meaning? (I)", "What is a Theory of Meaning? (II)," and "Realism (1983)." Of the two "What is Theory of Meaning" titles, (II) is more important than (I), and they're written to be readable in any order or one of them alone, and there's a much inferior although less technical version of Realism published sometime around 1965 or so. Prefer the 1983 version to the earlier one, since it's much more thoughtful.

If you're in more of a historical mode, I suggest Carnap's "Elimination of Metaphysics Through the Logical Analysis of Language" and Moritz Schlick's "Positivism and Realism."

And, of course, there's anything published by Putnam. Two gems of his are, "The Meaning of 'Meaning'" and "Explanation and Reference." A third rewarding essay of his is "The Analytic and the Synthetic."
Timothy
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Posted Mar 3, 2010 - 6:38 PM:

Davidson's "A coherence theory of truth and knowledge" and "On the very idea of a conceptual scheme".

Goodman's "New Riddle of Induction".

George Boolos "Gödel's Second Incompleteness Theorem Explained in Words of One Syllable."

And the great winner:

Wilfrid Sellar's "Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind"
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Posted Mar 3, 2010 - 8:16 PM:

Great recommendations. I've not read any but one of those. Keep 'em coming!
Timothy
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Posted Mar 3, 2010 - 8:39 PM:

There's also Carnap's "Empiricism, Semantics and Ontology"

Frege's "On Sense and Reference"

Quine's "On what there is"

Peirce's "Fixation of Belief" and "How to make our ideas clear"

And another absolutely great winner in any classics showdown:

Russell's "On Denoting"

Postmodern Beatnik
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Posted Mar 3, 2010 - 9:00 PM:

On the assumption that history of philosophy papers aren't very interesting to anyone who isn't into the particular philosopher covered by them, I'll keep my list short:

Dan Dennett - "Quining Qualia"

Edmund Gettier - "Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?"

Alvin Goldman - "What is Justified Belief?"

Stephen Rosenbaum - "How to Be Dead and Not Care"

David McNaughton - "Why Is So Much Philosophy So Tedious?"

The first three articles are among the seminal works of 20th century philosophy, but my primary selection criterion for this list was readability. Each one of these articles is written quite well and can be expected to foster an appreciation for philosophy, rather than bore the reader to tears. The McNaughton article is rather apropos on this last matter.
Postmodern Beatnik
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Posted Mar 3, 2010 - 9:03 PM:

Oh, and on the readability issue: stay away from John McDowell. That's good advice in general, but especially if you want to read anything that is remotely enjoyable/comprehensible/worth your time.

(Full disclosure: the above is a highly opinionated statement and should not be taken as reflecting the beliefs of anyone but sane people.)
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Posted Mar 4, 2010 - 7:57 AM:

Dear God, how could I forget another classic?

Thomas Nagel's "What is it like to be a bat?"
Postmodern Beatnik
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Posted Mar 4, 2010 - 8:53 AM:

And while we're on the subject of qualia, there's Frank Jackson's Knowledge Argument as propounded in "Epiphenomenal Qualia" and "What Mary Didn't Know," as well as Bob van Gulick's excellent surveys of the available replies "Understanding the Phenomenal Mind: Are We All Just Armadillos?" and "So Many Ways of Saying No to Mary."

Edited by Postmodern Beatnik on Mar 6, 2010 - 6:41 AM
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