Zine Study XIV: [language]; by Shawn
     Econo

Philosophy 234
Philosophy of Language

Autumn 2009



Where: Philosophy seminar room (H&SS 7077)
When: Tuesdays 1-3:50

Instructor: Jonathan Cohen (joncohenREMOVETHIS@aardvark.ucsd.edu (omit text in caps, which reduces automated spam))

office: (858) 534 6812

Office hours: Tuesdays 10-11:30 in H&SS 8072 (and by appointment; please feel free to call)


This graduate seminar in philosophy will serve as an introduction to several topics in contemporary philosophy of language. I take that to mean that (i) it will be fairly broad (i.e., unspecialized) in its coverage, and (ii) it will be devoted to materials that are often presupposed in more specialized discussions in contemporary philosophy of language. In short, this seminar will provide you an opportunity to read many of the philosophy of language articles that you know you should have under your belt but never get around to reading.

It will count for the department's graduate distribution requirement in the area of philosophy of mind and language, and as a core course in philosophy.

Course Requirements

Because this is designed as an introductory course, I'll take responsibility for guiding our weekly discussions rather than having students do presentations. That said, I very much want the course meetings to be discussions rather than lectures, so everyone should come to class having done the readings and ready to engage actively with the week's material.

Students can receive credit for the course in one of two ways. The first option involves writing shortish, weekly homework assignments. Students electing this option will have to do all of the homework assignments (I predict there will 7-8 of them), but won't be asked to write a term paper at the end of the quarter. The second option is to write a traditional (circa 15 page) term paper at the end of the quarter on some issue raised during the quarter and discussed with me by the 7th week of the quarter. Advantages of the first option: it is a low-risk way of getting acquainted with the material, and makes receiving an incomplete for the course unlikely. Advantages of the second option: it allows you the opportunity to dig more deeply into some issue that you care about, and you'll end up with a stand-alone philosophical paper of which you can be proud.

Tentative Schedule

WeekTopicReading
1.Organizational Meetingno reading
2.Frege on Sense and ReferenceFrege, "On Sense and Reference", "The Thought"; Burge, "Frege on Sense and Linguistic Meaning"
3.Definite DescriptionsRussell, "Knowledge by Acquaintance and Knowledge by Description", "On Denoting"; Strawson, "On Referring"; Donellan, "Reference and Definite Descriptions"; Kripke, "Speaker's Reference and Semantic Reference"
4.Kripke on Proper NamesKripke, Naming and Necessity, lectures I-II.
5.Quine on AnalyticityAyer, Language, Truth, and Logic, ch1-4; Quine, "Two Dogmas of Empiricism"
6.Conversational ImplicatureGrice, "Logic and Conversation", "Further Notes on Logic and Conversation"
7.Gricean Intention Based SemanticsSchiffer, Remnants of Meaning, ch 9; Lewis, "Languages and Language"
8.Inferential Role SemanticsBlock, "Advertisement for a Semantics for Psychology"; Fodor and Lepore, Holism: A Shopper's Guide, ch 6
9.Davidson on CompositionalityDavidson, "Theories of Meaning and Learnable Languages", "Truth and Meaning"; Matthews, "Learnability of Semantic Theory"; Schiffer, Remnants of Meaning, ch 7-8
10. Belief AscriptionsRichard, Propositional Attitudes, ch 1-2; Schiffer, "Belief Ascription"