Teaching‎ > ‎2019 Fall‎ > ‎

PHIL 424

Philosophy of Language

Time: Monday/Wednesday, 4:10-5:25 pm
Location: YMCA 115

Instructor: Kenny Easwaran
Office: YMCA Building 314, 979-847-6128
Office Hours: Tuesday/Wednesday, 2:30-3:45ish, or by appointment.

Prerequisites: Junior standing, and at least one philosophy course other than 240, or permission of instructor.

Course Description: The readings and discussion for this course will focus on issues surrounding meaning, truth, and reference in language, and the way they arise in the various uses to which language is put. We will be primarily reading historically influential works of philosophy and linguistics from the 20th century. We will start with the thought that the meaning of a word is the thing it stands for, but we will quickly see several of the ways in which it must be more complex. We will also discuss the extent to which linguistic meaning is constituted by the intentions of the speaker, the notions of truth or falsity, and the social, historical, and biological context of the speaker.

Learning Outcomes: As in many other philosophy classes, students will further develop skills of summarizing the arguments of others, putting forward their own arguments both in writing and in conversation, and analyzing the ways in which these arguments do and don't succeed. Specific to the topic, students will gain a familiarity with several historically influential views in philosophy and linguistics about the nature of meaning and the way it is constituted in language.

Readings: There is no required textbook for this course. All readings will be available as .pdf files from this website or via e-mail or the library.

Grading Policies: The grade in this course will primarily be based on written assignments, but will also have a component from class participation. 30% of the grade will be based on the 5 written summaries of arguments from some of the articles we are reading. 30% of the grade will be from Paper 1, and 30% of the grade will be from Paper 2. The remaining 10% of the final grade will be based on participation in class discussion.

I will discuss the summary assignments further in the first week of class and give some examples to show what I am looking for. Two of these assignments will be in the first two weeks of the class, and the other three will be in the middle and end of the semester. Paper topics will be discussed further as they get closer, but I will make sure to give several weeks of advance notice, so that you can write outlines and drafts and discuss them with me before you write the final version. Paper 1 will be due on Nov. 1, and Paper 2 will be due during finals week.

Attendance in class is not specifically required, but it will be difficult to properly participate in discussion with your fellow students and develop the relevant skills of clear verbal communication if you do not attend regularly. I will also discuss some of the requirements of assignments in class, though I can fill you in if it happens on a day when you have an excused absence. (See here for university attendance policies.)

For disability accommodations, please contact Disability Services so they can let me know what sorts of accommodations are appropriate.

Remember, an Aggie does not lie, cheat, or steal, and does not tolerate those who do. For further information, see the Aggie Honor System Office.

Mo. xx, Introduction

Topic 1

Mo. xx+7, Topic

First Last, "Title", in volume, pages

Supplementary readings:
First Last, Title
First Last, "Title"

Topic 2

Mo. yy, Topic

First Last, "Title"