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Abstract

Gary Gutting argues, in his recent book What Philosophers Know, that analytic philosophy provides a sizable collection of exemplary arguments that effectively yield a “disciplinary body of philosophical knowledge”—“metaphilosophy,” he names it—that is, specimens that define in a notably perspicuous way what we should understand as philosophical knowledge itself. He concedes weaknesses in the best-known specimens, and he admits that, generally, even the best specimens do not provide answers to the usual grand questions. I admire his treatment of the matter but argue that the metaphilosophical issues are, normally, of a much grander gauge than that of his sort of specimen; that they require a much more open, informal sort of inquiry and exchange than that of the distinctive rigor of the classic specimens themselves; that analytic philosophy, not uncharacteristically, tends to ignore the metaphilosophical issue or takes the validity of its method of argument for granted; and that the issue itself invites an appraisal of competing second-order conceptions of how philosophical argument proves fruitful. I proceed by way of the examination of cases drawn from Quine and Kripke.