Analytic philosophy and history of philosophy: the development of the idea of rational reconstruction

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)


Analytic philosophy has had an uneasy relationship with the discipline of history of philosophy throughout its life. Analytic philosophers often either scorn or simply ignore history of philosophy. Where interpretations have been offered of past philosophical works, in what we can call ‘analytic’ history of philosophy, they have tended to be ‘rational reconstructions’. In recent years, however, philosophers trained in the analytic tradition have begun to look at the history of analytic philosophy itself more seriously, and the debate about the relationship between philosophy and history of philosophy has been brought closer to home. In this paper I consider some of the philosophical and historiographical presuppositions and implications of this debate, focusing on the idea of rational reconstruction. This idea developed alongside analytic philosophy itself and holds the key to understanding one central thread in the history of the relationship between analytic philosophy and history of philosophy.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Historical Turn in Analytic Philosophy
EditorsErich Reck
Place of PublicationBasingstoke
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages30
ISBN (Print)9780230201538
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Publication series

NameHistory of Analytic Philosophy
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan

Cite this