A. J. Ayer: Language, Truth, and Logic

A.J. Ayer with Kelvin, My Chemex Coffee Maker

Since I had a primarily continental undergrad education, I am just now starting to fill in a lot of the gaps in my knowledge of analytic thought. I am reading this book for a course called Discourse and Metaphysics of Morals in which we trace the early 20th century emergence of meta-ethics.

Why a course on early 20th Century Meta-ethics? Political Philosophy, my main area of focus, has increasingly pushed me to moral philosophy. The questions I have been asking myself  (such as: What the role of public reason in political justification in the use of coercive power? What are the moral, epistemological, and metaphysical presuppositions–or lack thereof– that ground liberalism? What is the nature of democratic legitimacy?) prompted me to think more about meta-ethical questions: What does moral/political justification look like? What kinds of reasons count as good reasons for moral or political principles, especially those involving state or social coercion? What kind of claims are moral claims? What kind of moral truth is there (if any)?

Obviously this book is a far cry from answering these kinds of questions, but I am enjoying working my way up to contemporary meta-ethics, and I am finding that the style of these early 20th century thinkers is very appealing because it aims to be so rigorous. This kind of rigor is what I hope to achieve when writing about political problems and principles. Plus, I am just super stoked to find that logical positivism, the mortal enemy of most of the philosophers that I know personally, is actually really, really interesting.

About Amelia M. Wirts, Esq.

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers or They/Their/Theirs I am an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at University of Washington, Seattle, and I work on philosophy of law, social/political philosophy, and feminism. My current research project argues that the criminal justice system in the United States oppresses people through policing, courts and punishments, and collateral consequences of convictions and arrests. Because this system is an oppressive one, I argue that those engaged in anti-rape and anti-domestic violence activism should not avail themselves of the criminal justice system to achieve their goals. Looking for other ways of fighting rape and domestic violence will actually serve victims and their communities better. In addition to obtaining my Ph.D. from Boston College in 2020, I also graduated from Boston College Law School in 2017 as a part of a dual degree program in philosophy and law at Boston College. I was admitted to the Massachusetts bar in January 2018.
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