Philosophy of Language

Offered Fall 2001
Course Code: V83.0085-001
MW11:00 AM - 12:15 PM
Room: 711 Main

Instructor: Gary Ostertag
Office hours: W12:20-1:20 and by appointment

TA: Ray Buchanan
Office hours: TW1-2 and by appointment

Required Texts

Ayer, Language, Truth and Logic (Dover)
Stainton, Perspectives in the Philosophy of Language (Broadview Press)
Ostertag, Definite Descriptions: A Reader (MIT Press)
Kripke, Naming and Necessity (Harvard University Press)

Optional Texts

Lycan, Philosophy of Language (Routledge)


Wednesday, Sept. 5th:

Course structure. Historical background to the philosophy of language.

Monday, Sept. 10th:

Ayer, Chs 1 - 2

Wednesday, Sept. 12th:

Ayer, Chs 3 - 4

Monday, Sept. 17th:

Ayer, Ch 6; Stevensen, “The Emotive Meaning of Ethical Terms” (in course packet)

Wednesday, Sept. 19th:

Quine, “Two Dogmas of Empiricism” (in Stainton).

Monday, Sept. 24th:

Davidson, “Truth and Meaning” (in Stainton).

Wednesday, Sept. 26th:

Grice, “Meaning” (in Stainton).

Monday, Oct. 1st -
Wednesday, Oct. 3rd:

Austin, “Performative Utterances”; Searle, “Meaning and Speech Acts” (both articles in Stainton).

Monday, Oct. 8th -
Wednesday Oct. 10th:

Russell, “On Denoting” (Ostertag, Ch 1); Russell, “Descriptions” (Ostertag, Ch 3); Ostertag, Introduction, §§I-III (§II optional)

Monday, Oct. 15th:

Strawson, “On Referring” (Ostertag, Ch 6)

Wednesday, Oct. 17th:

Donnellan, “Reference and Definite Descriptions” (Ostertag, Ch 8); Ostertag, Introduction, §IV

Wednesday Oct. 19th:

Wettstein, “Demonstrative Reference and Definite Descriptions” (Ostertag, Ch 12)

Monday, Oct. 22nd:

Grice, “Vacuous Names” (Ostertag, Ch 7); Grice, “Logic and Conversation” (in Stainton)

Wednesday, Oct. 24th -
Wednesday, Oct 31st:

Neale, “Context and Communication” (Ostertag, Ch 14); Ostertag, Introduction, §§ V-VI; Devitt, “Meanings and Psychology” (excerpt).

Monday, Nov. 5th:

Frege, “Uber Sinn und Bedeutung” (in Stainton).

Wednesday, Nov. 7th -
Wednesday, Nov. 14th:

Kripke, Naming and Necessity (excerpts TBA)

Wednesday, Nov. 19th -
Monday, Nov. 24th:

Fodor, “Propositional Attitudes” (in Stainton); Salmon, excerpt from Frege's Puzzle (in course packet)

Wednesday, Nov. 26th -
Monday, Dec. 3rd:

Crimmins and Perry, “The Prince and the Phone Booth” (in course packet)

Wednesday, Dec. 5th-
Monday, Dec. 10th:

Saul, “The Pragmatics of Attitude Ascription” (in course packet).

Course Description

The course provides an introduction to analytical philosophy of language by focusing on a number of fundamental topics: the nature of meaning; Russell's theory of descriptions; the theory of reference; the semantics of belief reports.


Evaluation will be based upon three or four short papers and a final examination

Bobst Reference Resources

Craig, Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Routledge)

Blackburn, Oxford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Oxford University Press)

Audi, Cambridge Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Cambridge University Press)

Wilson, Keil, The Mit Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science

On-Line Resources

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Wilson, Keil, The Mit Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science


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