In a typical philosophy curriculum, there are some history courses, and some courses that are not history courses. A course on Plato’s metaphysics is a history course; a course on recent work on causation is not. Some courses have a history component. When I teach scepticism at upper levels (or graduate levels), I start with Descartes and Hume. I’m teaching history at that point; I’m not doing so when I go over the recent debate between Jim Pryor and Crispin Wright.
In that sense of ‘history’, which parts of the curriculum do you think count as part of history of philosophy? That is, when are you teaching history, and when are you not? To focus attention, consider which of the following works you would count as part of a history course, or part of the historical part of a course:
- Mill’s On Liberty;
- Russell’s “On Denoting”;
- Moore’s “Principia Ethica”;
- Wittgenstein’s Tractatus;
- Ayer’s Language, Truth and Logic;
- Ryle’s The Concept of Mind;
- Austin’s Sense and Sensibilia;
- Quine’s Word and Object;
- Gettier’s “Is Knowledge Justified True Belief?”
- Davidson’s “Actions, Reasons and Causes”;
- Grice’s William James lectures (as published in Studies in the Way of Words);
- Davidson’s “Truth and Meaning”;
- Anscombe’s Intention;
- Rawls’s A Theory of Justice;
- Kripke’s Naming and Necessity;
- Lewis’s Counterfactuals?
- Putnam’s “The Meaning of Meaning”;
- Thomson’s “In Defence of Abortion”;
- Block’s “Troubles with Functionalism”;
- Perry’s “The Essential Indexical”;
- Kripke’s Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language;
- Lewis’s “New Work for a Theory of Universals”;
- Lewis’s On the Plurality of Worlds.
That’s probably enough to give you the spirit of the enterprise. My answer is in the comments.
Posted by Brian Weatherson in Uncategorized