Philosophy 453
Philosophy of Language

University of Washington

Course Description

Autumn, 2008

This course will introduce students to the philosophy of language through a survey of some of the most influential papers that have been written during the past 115 years, from Frege (1892) to the present. We will cover as many of the following topics as time permits: Frege’s theory of sense and reference, Russell’s theory of descriptions and its critics, direct reference theories, indexicality, referential opacity, propositional attitudes, meaning and speech-acts. We will read articles by Frege, Russell, Strawson, Donnellan, Kripke, Putnam, Kaplan, Quine, and Grice (among others). While intended primarily for graduate students in philosophy and advanced undergraduate majors, the course is open to others with a suitable background in philosophy, including at least one upper division course. I will also presuppose a working knowledge of elementary symbolic logic (equivalent to PHIL 120) or the willingness to learn it quickly unaided. Meets I&S or VLPA requirement and Optional W Course Requirement. Offered jointly with Linguistics 476.

Grades will be determined by a mid-term exam and a final project. The final project will be either a term paper (10-12 pages) or a take-home examination. Graduate students in Philosophy must choose the term paper option. Those undergrduates taking the course for optional W (writing) credit must choose the term paper option and must submit a preliminary draft or outline of the paper by the seventh week of the quarter.

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