The Philosophy of Language

Course Number: 
HUL 843
LTP structure: 

Course Objective

The twentieth century is one which has been said to mark a 'linguistic turn' in philosophy. This course will examine the basic sense/reference, truth/falsity, denotative/ connotative, meaning/use, analytic/ synthetic, argument/predicate, intension/extension dichotomies as they are explored in post-Fregean analytic philosophy. Five or six distinct strains of philosophical opinion are salient for this course. They are (A) the logical positivism associated, with Ayer et. a!. (B) Witgenstein's 'picture' and 'game' theories of meaning; (C) the speech-act theory of Austin and Searle; (D) the Gricean maxims of conversational cooperation and non-natural meaning; (E) the 'pragmatism' of Quine on webs of meaning, Davidson on truth and interpretation and Rorty on philosophy as conversation and social conduct; (F) the writings of continental 'non-analytic' philosophers such as Derrida and Habermas who hold opposed positions on the nature of language. The views of Kripke, Dummett and Dennett among philosophers and Chomsky, Katz and Fodor among linguists will also be discussed. The course may have a seminar format in which particular topics are considered in depth and short papers are prepared by students.

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