PHIL223

Introduction to the philosophy of language

Reading material here

GENERAL DESCRIPTION
In Hitchcock’s movie Vertigo, detective Scottie is hired by Gavin to follow Madeleine, his wife who seems to be ‘possessed’ by a ghost from the past. As he follows her day after day, Scottie eventually meets Madeleine, and they fall in love. Except that the Madeleine he falls in love with and who loves him back, is not Madeleine, Gavin’s wife. It is Judy, a woman who looks like Madeleine, and who is paid by the mischievous husband Gavin to pretend to be Madeleine.
Apart from being a widely acclaimed detective story, Vertigo asks a question that philosophers of language have been asking since the late 19th century. What does “Madeleine is Judy” mean? When Scottie says ‘Madeleine’, this word refers to a woman others call ‘Judy’ in the world’. What does his use of the word ‘Madeleine’ really pick up in the world?

The problem of reference is what we will be focusing on in this introductory course to philosophy of language, from a variety of angles. Throughout the semester we will be looking at articles by philosophers who have marked this area of research.

PARTICIPATION AND ATTENDANCE
Students are required to read the material that we will be working on, and participation is highly valued.

GRADING POLICY
Grading should follow the scheme below – but may be adapted to the class’ specific needs:

Test#1: 20%
Test#2: 35%
Test#3: 35%
Participation: 10% participation
Possibility of Oral presentation: Graded on 5, with points added to final grade

REQUIRED READINGS
Material will be provided to the class, and are available on: http://jraissati.com/PHIL223

OFFICE HOURS
By appointment

Readings

1 INTRODUCTION TO REFERENCE

Mill “A system of logic” Book I.

2 THE PROBLEM OF REFERENCE

Frege 1892 (1948) “Sense and reference”
Frege 1918 (1956) “The thought” *

• Reference as definite descriptions
Russell 1905 “On denoting”
Russell 1910 “Knowledge by description”
Hochberg 1976 “Russell’s attack on Frege” *
Donnallan 1966 “Reference and definite descriptions” *

• Proper names, and the causal theory of reference
Kripke 1972 “Naming and necessity”

3 THE NATURE OF MEANING

• Essence and natural kind terms
Putnam 1973 “Meaning and reference”

• Quine and logical empiricism: “there is no fact of the matter”
Quine 1951 “Two dogmas of empiricism” *
Quine 1957 “Speaking of objects”
Quine 1968 “Ontological relativity”

• Meaning in context
Grice 1957 “Meaning”
Grice 1969 “Utterer’s meaning and intention” *

Texts marked by a * are for your reference, and will probably not be covered in class.

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