BRITISH ANALYTIC PHILOSOPHY: THE POLITICS OF AN APOLITICAL CULTURE

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Abstract:

There is a consensus that post-war British analytic philosophy was politically neutral. This view has been affirmed by the post-war analysts themselves, and by their critics. This paper argues that this consensus-view is false. Many central analytic philosophers claimed that their empirical philosophy had liberal outcomes, either through cultivating liberal habits of mind, or by revealing truths about the world that supported liberal conclusions. These beliefs were not subject to significant scrutiny or attempts at justification, but they do help us to explain the otherwise puzzling disinclination to engage with questions of political philosophy on the part of these politically active individuals.

Keywords: Analytic philosophy; Ayer; Berlin; Britain; Hampshire; Hegel; Nazism; Nietzsche; Russell; Warnock; empiricism; fascism; liberalism; political philosphy; second world war; theory; truth

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Law, Politics and Sociology, University of Sussex, Arts A, Brighton, BN1 9QN, Email: T.L.Akehurst@sussex.ac.uk

Publication date: January 1, 2009

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