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Vernon’s hierarchical theory

Analytic philosophers conduct conceptual investigations that characteristically, though not invariably, involve studies of the language in which the concepts in question are, or can be, expressed. According to one tradition in analytic philosophy (sometimes referred to as formalism), for example, the definition of a concept can be determined by uncovering the underlying logical structures, or “logical forms,” of the sentences used to express it. A perspicuous representation of these structures in the language of modern symbolic logic, so the formalists thought, would make clear the logically permissible inferences to and from such sentences and thereby establish the logical boundaries of the concept under study. Another tradition, sometimes referred to as informalism, similarly turned to the sentences in which the concept was expressed but instead emphasized their diverse uses in ordinary language and everyday situations, the idea being to elucidate the concept by noting how its various features are reflected in how people actually talk and act. Even among analytic philosophers whose approaches were not essentially either formalist or informalist, philosophical problems were often conceived of as problems about the nature of language.