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Module descriptions

7AAN2017 Foundations of Analytic Philosophy


Credit value: 20
Module tutor: Professor Mark Textor


  • Summative assessment: one 4,000-word essay (100%)
  • Formative assessment: one 2,000–3,000-word essay


  • Summative assessment: one 4,000-word essay (100%)
  • Formative assessment: one 2,000–3,000-word essay

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.

Teaching pattern: one weekly one-hour lecture and one weekly one-hour seminar.
Pre-requisites: none
Sample syllabus: 7AAN2017 module syllabus 2016-17.

We will look at the ideas of Frege, Russell and Wittgenstein and the relations between them. Frege and Russell exchanged letters in which they explain their idea and critcize each other. Russell’s Principles of Mathematics (1902) contains an Appendix in which he discusses Frege’s doctrines and explains where and why he differs from Frege. Russell’s ‘On Denoting’ (1905) develops an argument that the distinction between sense and reference is deeply mysterious. In the first 7 weeks we will follow the debate between Russell and Frege. (If time allows, we will also have a look at Russell’s discussion of Meinong). Then we will use our understanding of Frege and Russell to get a grip of the basic ideas of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus.

Further information

Module aims

Students will learn:

  • Why Frege distinguished between sense and reference and what the basic tenets of the theory of sense and reference are.
  • What Russell criticised in the theory of sense and reference and how he tried to overcome the problems of this theory by developing the theory of definite descriptions.
  • How Wittgenstein tried to solve the problems that arose for Frege and Russell in his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus.
Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, the students will be able to demonstrate intellectual, transferable and practicable skills appropriate to a Level 7 module and in particular will be able to demonstrate: 

  • To learn to read texts in the history of philosophy critically 
  • To reconstruct and assess philosophical arguments 
  • In-depth knowledge of the key-texts and arguments of early analytic philosophy
Past syllabi

7AAN2017 module syllabus 2012-13 (pdf)
7AAN2017 module syllabus 2013-14 (pdf)
7AAN2017 module syllabus 2014-15 (pdf)
7AAN2017 module syllabus 2015-16 (pdf)

Please note that module syllabus and topics covered may vary from year to year.

More detailed information on the current year’s module (including the syllabus for that year) can be accessed on KEATS by all students and staff. 

Core reading
  • G. Frege: 
    - Conceptual Notation. Section 8.
    - Foundations of Arithmetic (1884). translated by J.L Austin.
    - ‘On Sense and Reference’. In B. McGuiness (ed.) Gottlob Frege: Collected Papers on Mathematics, Logic and Philosophy. Blackwell 1984.
    - ‘On Concept and Object’. In Gottlob Frege: Collected Papers on Mathematics, Logic and Philosophy. Blackwell 1984.
  • B. Russell: 
    - The Logical and Arithmetical Doctrines of Frege. In his The Principles of Mathematics (1902).
    - ‘On Denoting. Mind 14 (1905), 479–493. Repr. in Russell, Bertrand, Essays in Analysis, London: Allen and Unwin, 1973, 103–119, 
    - Problems of Philosophy (1912) 1998, Oxford: OUP.
  • L. Wittgenstein:
    - Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. (1921)
    - Gottlob Frege: Letters to Ludwig Wittgenstein. (online:

Secondary Texts

  • Frege:
    - Kenny, A. (1995) Frege. London: Penguin.
    - Potter, M; Ricketts, T. (2010) The Cambridge Companion to Frege. Cambridge: CUP.
    - Weiner, J. (2004) Frege Explained. Chicago: Open Court.
  • Russell:
    - Landini, G. (2010) Russell. London: Routledge.
    - 100 Years of ‘On Denoting. Mind 114 (2005).
  • Wittgenstein:
    - Anscombe, G.E.M., 1971 [1959] An Introduction to Wittgenstein's Tractatus, University of Pennsylvania Press.
    - Fogelin, R. 1987 [1976] Wittgenstein. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul Inc.
    - McGinn, M. (2009) Elucidating the Tractatus: Wittgenstein’s Early Philosophy of Logic and Language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    - Morris, M. (2009) The Routledge Guidebook to Wittgenstein and the Tractatus. London: Routledge.
    - Stenius, H. 1960, Wittgenstein's Tractatus: A Critical Exposition of its Main Lines of Thought, Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press.
Blank space

The modules run in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand so there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary depending between years.

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