|A name is no hidden description,
It's meaningless, needs no decryption.
And a fictional name
Names a thing just the same:
It's not just an empty inscription.
(limerick by Sam Rickless)
Amendment made after reading Reference and
replace last line with
'Except when it doesn't: conniption!'
Philosophy 285: Seminar on Special Topics
Where: Philosophy seminar room (H&SS 7077)
When: Wednesdays 1-3:50, Spring 2015
office: (858) 822 4910
Office hours: MF 11:00-12:00, in H&SS 8009
'joncohen' followed by the at sign, followed by 'aardvark.ucsd.edu'
office: (858) 534 6812
Office hours: Tuesdays 10-11:30, in H&SS 8072 (and by appointment;
please feel free to call/email)
This seminar will focus on two recently published and long-awaited books
by Saul Kripke: Reference and Existence and Philosophical
The seminar will be an opportunity for us all to think through
these newly released works, which are sure to become extremely
influential and widely-discussed.
The first of the two books, Reference and Existence, consists of
Kripke's 1973 Locke Lectures, offered as a sequel to Naming and
Here Kripke elaborates on the field-shaping views of that earlier
work, and extends them to a number of issues left open there.
Among other things, he takes up questions about the semantics of
fictional names ('Hamlet') and kind terms ('sneetch'), negative
existential statements ('there is no Pegasus'), and the ontology of
Philosophical Troubles: Collected Papers (volume 1) is, as its
name (needless to say, in fact at least partially a description)
suggests, a more miscellaneous collection Kripke's papers on a wide
range of topics.
It includes some well-known and much-discussed classics (e.g.,
"Speaker's Reference and Semantic Reference," "A Puzzle About Belief,"
"Outline of a Theory of Truth"), as well as newly published papers on
(e.g.,) the surprise examination paradox, Frege's theory of sense and
reference, the first person way of thinking, quantifiers,
presuppositions, and many other things.
If the new books exert even 1% of the influence that Naming and
Necessity did, they will be field-defining must-reads for
philosophers in virtually every subfield.
Students may count this course as satisfying the department's
core course requirement in either philosophy of language or
metaphysics (but not both), and may count it toward the department's
distribution requirements in either (but not both) of philosophy of
mind and language or metaphysics and epistemology.
We've ordered both books from the UCSD bookstore; they are also widely
available elsewhere (probably for less).
There will also be supplementary readings that we will make available
The seminar requirements are of three main kinds: presentations, short
weekly papers, and longer seminar papers.
All attendees (including auditors) will be required to lead a seminar
discussion (or maybe more than one, depending on our numbers).
A presentation should be a critical discussion rather than a summary
or book report (the presenter can assume that other participants have
done the reading, and the other participants will make it the case
that that assumption is correct), and should contain a thesis and
arguments for that thesis.
It can concern any topic connected with the week's reading that is of
interest to the presenter.
You must discuss your presentation with one of us sometime before the
session in which you present, just to make sure we're on the same page.
Seminar presentations may be given using handouts or slides, but they
may not be read aloud from a pre-written paper.
Also, students are not permitted to present on material
about which they have previously written papers for other courses (at
UCSD or elsewhere).
Students taking the course for credit will be asked to write four
short weekly papers and a final seminar paper for the course.
Short weekly papers:
The short weekly papers can be written on any issue in the week's
reading that you find interesting and worthy of reflection.
You can raise an objection, extend an argument, consider a related
These papers should be a maximum of two pages long; as such, the
intent is not that they should be earth-shattering, publishable,
completely footnoted, connected with wider literature, anticipating
and responding to objections, and so on.
Instead, they are intended to ensure that you are thinking actively
about the material you are reading, and responding to it
You'll need to hand in four of these during the quarter to receive
credit for the seminar, but it's entirely up to you in which
of the weeks (/on which of the readings) to write.
Longer seminar papers:
Students will additionally be required to write a traditional (circa
15 page) term paper at the end of the quarter on some issue raised
during the quarter.
We'll ask for short prospectuses on final papers by the 7th week of
Eek -- that's very soon; so you'll need to start thinking about your
choice of topic as soon as possible.
We will determine your grade based on the following breakdown:
15% seminar presentations and participation (very much including
weeks in which you are not leading the course)
20% short papers
65% final paper
Note that we will jump right into discussion in the first meeting on 1
April, so participants should read Naming and Necessity before the
|1 April||Naming and Necessity
||Naming and Necessity, lectures I-II
|8 April||Naming and Necessity, cont.
sign up for
|Naming and Necessity, lectures II-III
|15 April||Reference and Existence
Reference and Existence, lectures I-II
||Reference and Existence
Reference and Existence, lectures III-IV
|29 April||Reference and Existence
Reference and Existence, lectures V-VI
|6 May||Philosophical Troubles
"Russell's Notion of Scope";
Denoting"; Strawson, "On Referring"
|13 May||Philosophical Troubles
"The First Person";
Thought"; Perry, "Frege on
Demonstratives"; Kaplan, "Demonstratives"
|20 May||Philosophical Troubles
"A Puzzle About Belief"
|27 May||Philosophical Troubles
"Outline of a theory of truth"
|3 June||Philosophical Troubles
two papers selected according to student interests