Mark Wilson’s “alternative history,” highly original, deeply informed, cogently argued, and elegantly written, aims to do more than chronicle the mistakes of the past. It presents a manifesto for the future, charting more profitable paths along which analytic philosophers might pursue their inquiries. Unlike some other reformers, Wilson does not take the rot to have set in fairly recently, with the ever more minute scrutiny of ever less significant questions. From his perspective, the trouble began early, with false steps made by the giants of logical empiricism, by philosophers of the stature of Carnap and Hempel and Quine. While these seminal philosophers were rightly inspired by insights of late nineteenth-century physicists, by Heinrich Hertz and Ernst Mach in particular, they misread the lessons offered by these eminent scientists. The result is a misguided picture of how to practice philosophy, although Wilson correctly acknowledges some particular insights achieved by the giants,...

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