More About Ordinary Language Philosophy


The opening chapter of GJ Warnock’s JL Austin (1989, London: Routledge) gives a very clear summary of just what Austin did and did not claim for ordinary language philosophy (Warnock was a pupil of Austin’s and one of his literary executors).

The strengths and limitations of Austin’s work are debated in Fann, K. T. (Ed.) (1969). Symposium on J. L. Austin London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

Austin signals the relevance of ordinary language philosophy to mental health practice (and vice versa) towards the end of his Plea for Excuses (see below). This is picked up in Fulford’s Philosophy and Medicine: The Oxford Connection   (British Journal of Psychiatry, 1990, 157: 111-115).

After a long period of neglect ordinary language philosophy has had a minor revival in recent years: see for example, Baz, A. (2012) When Words are Called For: A Defense of Ordinary Language Philosophy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press; and for a contemporary collection of essays, the American philosopher, Hilary Putnam’s (2002) The Collapse of the Fact/Value Dichotomy and Other Essays (Cambridge, Mass., and London, England: Harvard University Press). The Swedish philosopher, Lennart Nordenfelt’s Health, Science and Ordinary Language (2001, Amsterdam: Rodopi) is an ordinary language exploration of health concepts.

Chapters 2, 4 and 6 of The Oxford Textbook of Philosophy and Psychiatry (Fulford, Thornton and Graham, 2006, Oxford: Oxford University Press) explore with short exercises and illustrative readings, the role of ordinary language philosophy respectively in the problems, methods, and outputs of philosophy and psychiatry.