Philosophy 235
Philosophy of Language: Naming and Necessity and its Wake

Winter 2004

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Where: Philosophy seminar room (H&SS 7077)
When: Tuesdays, 1:00-3:50

Instructor: Jonathan Cohen (omit text in caps, which reduces automated spam)
office: (858) 534 6812

Office hours: Mondays 1-2:30 in H&SS 8072 (and by appointment; please feel free to call)

This graduate seminar in philosophy will be devoted to themes emerging from Saul Kripke's seminal work, Naming and Necessity. This revolutionary book deserves its status as a classic of 20th century philosophy not only for the substantive semantic and metaphysical views it propounds, but also for the new methodological tools it offers for doing philosophy. For better or worse, both Kripke's substantive views and his new philosophical tools have become extremely influential in almost every subdiscipline of philosophy. In short, it is difficult to do serious academic philosophy today without taking positions on the sorts of things Kripke is up to in Naming and Necessity.

In this seminar we'll attempt to grapple with this important work, first by reading it, and then through the study of two newer books that attempt to reconsider -- sometimes extending and sometimes retracting -- Kripkean lines of thought. The books that will be our central focus, then, are:


The seminar requirements are of four kinds: presentations, participation, weekly short (1-2 page) papers, and a medium length (15 page) final paper.

Presentation: All attendees (including auditors) will be required to lead seminar discussions at least twice. A presentation should be a critical discussion rather than a summary or book report (after all, the presenter can assume that other participants have done the reading, and the other participants will make it the case that such an 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 me sometime before the session in which you present, just to make sure you're on the right track. Seminar presentations may be given using notes or overheads, but they may not be read aloud from a pre-written paper.

Participation and Short Papers: I want this seminar to be driven by discussion. But that can't happen unless we all come to seminar ready to participate. Therefore, students taking the course for credit will be required to hand in a short (1-2 page) paper every week. In each short paper, critically comment on any aspect of the reading that you find interesting --- again, no book reports. The purpose of these short papers is to force you to engage the reading in a serious way so that you'll be primed to participate actively in the discussion; use the papers to facilitate this goal, as a serious portion of your grade will be determined by seminar participation. I'll mark these short papers on a simple acceptable/unacceptable scale, and you must pass in 7 acceptable assignments to receive a passing grade for the course.

Final Paper: Students taking the course for credit will pass in a single 15 page paper by the end of the quarter (extensions will be granted only in cases of extreme emergency), on a topic of their own choosing that relates to the subject matter of the course. All such papers must be pre-approved in conversation with me. I mean it. Really.


I will determine your grade (assuming you have passed in 7 acceptable short papers) based on the following breakdown:
35% seminar presentations
20% seminar participation
45% final paper

I am deliberately putting extraordinary weight on seminar presentations and participation (emphatically including participation when you are not giving the presentation) as a way of encouraging you to do the reading and get actively involved in seminar discussions. You should come to seminar prepared to make substantive critical contributions every week.

Background/Other Works

While there is a huge amount of material that will likely be helpful to our discussions, I would recommend the following as the beginnings of a list of supplementary materials.

Tentative Schedule

1-2Naming and NecessityKripke, Naming and NecessityJonathan Cohen
3Frege's Puzzle, Frege and Russell on Propositional Content Salmon, Frege's Puzzle Introduction, ch. 1-3Erik Jackiw
4Frege's Puzzle Reconsidered Salmon, Frege's Puzzle ch. 4-7Eric Campbell
5Salmon's Solution Salmon, Frege's Puzzle ch. 8-9James Messina
6The Unfinished Agenda, Names and Rigidity Soames, Beyond Rigidity ch. 1-2Eric Martin
7 Meaning and Names Soames, Beyond Rigidity ch. 3-5Michael Tiboris
8 Propositional Attitudes Soames, Beyond Rigidity ch. 6-7Melissa Johnson, Mitch Hershbach
9Attitudes Again, Rigidity and General Terms Soames, Beyond Rigidity ch. 8-9Matt Brown, Shaun McCollum
10 Natural Kind Terms and Names (Without Rigidity) Soames, Beyond Rigidity ch. 10-11Ioan Muntean