In March 2013 I published a study of the life and work of the philosopher Susan Stebbing, as Susan Stebbing and the Language of Common Sense, in the Palgrave History of Analytic Philosophy series. Stebbing is a very interesting and under-researched figure in the British analytic tradition of the early to mid twentieth century. She was a leading exponent of contemporary developments in logical theory, and yet her works were illustrated with examples taken from naturally-occurring texts and with appeals to how her readership would ordinarily use and understand words. Her work therefore calls into question any notion of a clear-cut distinction or binary division between the so-called ‘ideal language’ and ‘ordinary language’ traditions in analytic philosophy. Further, in her later work, Stebbing focussed her attention on the analysis of ideologically loaded texts such as advertisements, newspaper editorials and political speeches, with a particular emphasis on revealing the assumptions and commitments underlying these. This type of analytic work is nowadays most readily associated with fairly recent developments in linguistics, such as critical discourse analysis.
I was very pleased to be invited to take Susan Stebbing as the topic for my talk in the Annual Women in the History of Philosophy Lecture at the University of Sheffield in February 2014. Together with Professor Michael Beaney of King’s College London and the Humboldt University in Berlin, I am preparing an entry on on Stebbing for the Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.