In this post, I propose a meta-philosophical category: the undeveloped frequent observation. I'll explain with an example, but the general idea is of something that important philosophers notice every so often, but that doesn't receive systematic development.
Now one reason not to run with an idea is that people find it false. So I'm interested especially in observations that pop up again and again, but are neither argued against nor rejected by a near concensus. (It doesn't take a consensus that the observation is true for it to be taken up and run with, just a few philosophers. So only a near concensus of falsehood would explain a lack of work.) That is, I am interested in substantive philosophical observations or suggestions that are made by several influential philosophers and largely ignored by the profession thereafter.
There is no shortage of 20th c philosophers who decry something like the declarative fallacy. Such diverse philosophers as Heidegger, Wittgenstein, and Belnap (among others) have claimed at length that it damages philosophy. And yet there has been little systematic response. Moral prescriptivists attempted to develop a non-declaratival approach to particular issues in meta-ethics. On the "continental side," Althusser, Butler, and Derrida mobilize non-declaratival speech acts for particular explanatory purposes. Heidegger and Wittgenstein have lots of suggestive remarks about various problems. Belnap offers semantic accounts of imperatives and interrogatives. Austin, Grice, and Searle develop theories of pragmatics that include non-declarative speech acts. But none of the philosophers who offer anything like systematic accounts of speech acts have claimed that this work was relevant to central philosophical issues, and none of the philosophers who make philosophical use of non-declaratives offer anything like a systematic account of speech acts. This strikes me as odd, since the obvious response to the thought that the declarative fallacy is, indeed, a fallacy, would be to apply a theory of other sorts of speech acts systematically to key philosophical issues.
Now I'm not neutral in this. Along with Rebecca Kukla, I'm developing a new typology of speech acts and applying it to various core issues in philosophy: social construction, epsitemic receptivity, meta-ethics, etc. (First in 'Yo!' and 'Lo!': the pragmatic topography of the space of reasons, HUP 2009; and since in two papers "Intersubjectivity and Receptive Experience," forthcoming in Southern Journal of Philosophy, and "Leave the Gun; take the cannoli: the pragmatic topography of second-person calls," forthcoming in Ethics.) And I'm working with Andy Blitzer to develop a non-declaratival meta-ontology - that is, a claim that at least one important form of ontology is best understood as itself making use of non-declaratival speech acts. (Andy's dissertation, under the direction of Bill Blattner and Rebecca will systematically interpret Heidegger as engaged in the development of such a non-declaratival ontology.) This work will be presented at the Eastern APA in Atlanta in a session on Heidegger and analytic philosophy.
But self-interest and shameless self-advertising aside, I find there to be a striking contrast between the vehemence with which a range of highly influential authors denounce some version of the declarative fallacy, and the lack of systematic work on alternatives to it.
I invite comments of two sorts: either discussion of the particular case, or suggestions of other cases of undeveloped frequent observations from the recent history of philosophy. (I might pull out some of the latter as separate posts so they can receive direct discussion.)