Susan Stebbing

Michael Anthony Beaney, Siobhan Chapman

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingEntry for encyclopedia/dictionary


Susan Stebbing was a leading figure in British philosophy between the First and Second World Wars. She made significant contributions to the development of the analytic tradition, both in establishing it institutionally and in showing how its ideas and techniques could be applied in a wide range of domains. Her early work focused on logic and during her lifetime she was celebrated chiefly for A Modern Introduction to Logic (1930), which offered an account of both traditional, Aristotelian logic and the new mathematical logic associated particularly with the work of Russell and Whitehead. She went on to be both an important proponent of what came to be known as the Cambridge School of Analysis and an advocate of the relevance of logic to everyday questions and problems. In her early work on logic and increasingly in her later work on thinking and reasoning, she stressed the ways in which language is used and misused in ordinary communication and argued that philosophers must pay heed to these uses and misuses. Stebbing felt increasingly compelled to engage with practical contemporary issues and to address a wider public audience. Philosophy and the Physicists (1937) and Thinking to Some Purpose (1939) offer, respectively, critiques of the language used in popular science communication and in everyday genres such as political speeches, advertisements, and newspaper editorials. Towards the end of her life, her interests in logic and language became increasingly socially directed and politically engaged. Stebbing’s work foreshadowed a number of important subsequent developments both in philosophy itself and in linguistics.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationStanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
EditorsEdward Zalta
Place of PublicationStanford
Publication statusPublished - 8 May 2017


  • Susan Stebbing
  • analytic philosophy
  • logic
  • critical thinking
  • logical positivism
  • history of analytic philosophy


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