Philosophy of Language, PHI 565

Course Description

This class is intended to be a first class in the Philosophy of Language. We will focus on semantics, that is, the theory of meaning. Topics will include semantic compositionality, descriptions, quantifiers, proper names, natural kind terms, propositional attitudes, conversational implicature, logical positivism, analyticity, truth and meaning, meaning and use, and the indeterminacy of translation. We will read classic articles by Frege, Russell, Searle, Kripke, Putnam, Quine, Davidson, Lewis and others. The only prerequisite for this course is one prior course in philosophy. However, things will be easier if you have had some exposure to symbolic logic.


There is one required textbook: The Philosophy of Language by A. P. Martinich. Additional required readings will be placed on reserve.


Dates of exams and papers, paper topics, and exam study guides will be given in class.

Undergraduate requirements:

Graduate requirements:






Anti-descriptivism for names and natural kinds

Direct reference and belief

Conversational Implicature

Truth and meaning

Meaning and Use

Skepticism about meaning: the Analytic/Synthetic distinction

Skepticism about meaning: Rule Following

Skepticism about meaning: Indeterminacy of Translation