(p. v) Preface
(p. v) Preface
‘American Philosophy’ is of course rather a large topic. While I have tried to have as much of it covered as is possible in a mere few hundred pages, there are no doubt many individual philosophers and topics that deserved more (or indeed some) attention. But perhaps the reader who is alert to the gaps will reflect not only that was the aim here to cover two centuries of philosophical thought, across domains of philosophy as diverse as logic and ethics, but also that a set of challenges was faced due to the geographic nature of the subject matter. What counts as American philosophy? And who counts as an American philosopher?
With respect to the first question, the whole of the Americas are not covered—that would have resulted in a completely unwieldy project and would have destroyed whatever unity there is to be found in the subject matter. There is of course a home‐grown philosophy in America—the pragmatism that originated in the mid to late 1800s in Cambridge, Massachusetts. But it would be silly to take pragmatism to be definitive of the spirit of the whole of American philosophy. So I have tried to strike a balance between getting the full flavor of pragmatism, from C. S. Peirce to Richard Rorty, in the volume, and giving the impression that pragmatism somehow still lingers on every American philosopher's palate.
With respect to the second question, philosophy is now a rather international enterprise, with scholars moving from country to country. I and many of the contributors had to make a set of decisions about who to count as being American. One easy decision was to include the logical empiricists, that impressive set of Germans and Austrians who put what looks like an indelible stamp on philosophy of science and epistemology once they hit the shores of North America. But of course, not all the decisions were that clear‐cut. We tried to speak to those philosophers who spent a significant part of their intellectual life in the United States or had an enormous influence on the way (p. vi) philosophy was practiced there. No doubt this set of decisions will not please everyone.
I thank the contributors for the time and effort they put into their chapters. Those who responded promptly to my initial request have been exceedingly patient and need to be thanked for their good humor as well. Peter Momtchiloff and Nadiah Al‐Ammar at Oxford University Press were most helpful, and Mikki Choman went well beyond the call of duty during the final production stages.