Nice question, that Routledge knows the answer to
A distinction must be made between the philosophical theory of conceptual > analysis and the historical philosophical movement of Conceptual Analysis.
The theory of conceptual analysis holds that concepts – general
meanings of linguistic predicates – are the fundamental objects of
philosophical inquiry, and that insights into conceptual contents are
expressed in necessary ’conceptual truths’ (analytic propositions).
There are two methods for obtaining these truths:
The movement of Conceptual Analysis arose at Cambridge during the
first half of the twentieth century, and flourished at Oxford and many
American departments of philosophy in the 1950s and early 1960s. In
the USA its doctrines came under heavy criticism, and its proponents
were not able to respond effectively; by the end of the 1970s the
movement was widely regarded as defunct
As is well known
There’s something to it, but probably not much. ‘Transcendental’ arguments used to run: ‘If it weren’t that P, we couldn’t know that Q; and we do know that Q; therefore P.’ Philosophical fashion now prefers: ‘If it weren’t that P, we couldn’t say (or think or judge) that Q; but we do say (or think or judge) that Q; therefore P.’
Ignore this bit if you don't like ad libbing, and I'm sure someone can provide an actual example and one that is much prettier.
So we might, e.g., construct some definitions:
- Metaphysical questions are philosophical questions.
- "What is metaphysics" is a metaphysical question.
Draw an inference from their conjunction:
- "What is metaphysics" is a philosophical question.
Then ask what must be the case if we can think or say or judge that conclusion (this last step may be less obvious, but hopefully you'll agree that if you can judge that some question is a philosophical question, then you have means to do so and):
- philosophy has a definition.