Agency, thought, and language: Analytic philosophy goes to school

Laurance Joseph SPLITTER

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9 Citations (Scopus)


I take as my starting point recent concerns from within educational psychology about the need to treat the conceptual and philosophical underpinnings of empirical research in the field more seriously, specifically in the context of work on the self, mind and agency. Developing this theme, I find such conceptual support in the writings of P. F. Strawson and Donald Davidson, two giants of analytic philosophy in the second half of the Twentieth Century. Drawing particularly on Davidson’s later work, in which he seeks to integrate key claims about subjectivity, objectivity, belief, truth and knowledge, within what he refers to as a triangular framework of two speakers and a common world, I find support for pedagogic and classroom organizational structures based on collaborative thinking and dialogue. While Davidson did not write about education, I argue that his framework has much to offer, most particularly in view of the priority it affords language and dialogue as the necessary and sufficient conditions for reason, belief and thought—in short, for being a person in the world. Copyright © 2011 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)343-362
JournalStudies in Philosophy and Education
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2011


Splitter, L. J. (2011). Agency, thought, and language: Analytic philosophy goes to school. Studies in Philosophy and Education, 30(4), 343-362.


  • Language
  • Belief
  • Mind
  • Thinking
  • Agency
  • Person


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