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Volume 48 • Number 2

April 2011



A Plague on Both Your “Isms”

by P. M. S. Hacker

“Isms” can be the bane of critical thought, for they provide an array of ready-mades that are often used as substitutes for careful description and analysis. Today’s “isms” also have a tendency, as Robert Hughes observed, to become tomorrow’s “was-ms.” Our characteristic “isms” come in pairs that purport to be exclusive and exhaustive answers to a given question, and we unthinkingly assume that a philosopher must be one corresponding “ist” or the other corresponding “ist”—little thinking that he may reject the question to which the pair of “isms” are severally answers.

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American Philosophical Quarterly is published by the University of Illinois Press on behalf of North American Philosophical Publications.

ISSN: 2152-1123