Philosophy of Language
Curtis Brown

Class Information

Review for the Midterm Exam
Paper Information
Review for the Final Exam

Notes and Handouts

Introduction to the Class

Russell, Philosophy of Logical Atomism

Notes on Russell, Philosophy of Logical Atomism, lectures 1-3
Notes on Russell, Philosophy of Logical Atomism, lectures 4-6
Russell, Philosophy of Logical Atomism -- miscellaneous issues

Traditional Theories of Meaning

Notes on Lycan, Chapter 5
Early Modern Background (notes on Ian Hacking's discussion of Locke et al.)

Theories of Meaning: Meaning as Use; Grice's Theory

Wittgenstein, notes on sections 1-120
Grice's Account of Meaning (notes on Lycan, chapter 7)

A. J. Ayer and Verificationism

Ayer, LT&L, chapter 3
Ayer on Truth

Theories of Meaning: Truth-Condition Theories

Extensional Truth-Condition Theories (notes on Lycan, chapter 9)
Intensional Truth-Condition Theories (notes on Lycan, chapter 10)
Semantic Pragmatics (notes on Lycan, chapter 11)

Theories of Reference: Description and Causal-Historical

Kripke on the description theory of reference - tabular overview (pdf)
Kripke on the description theory - discursive summary (pdf)
Kripke's causal-historical account - tabular overview (pdf)
Notes on Naming and Necessity, Lecture 1
Lycan on the Description and Causal-Historical Theories (Lycan, chapters 3-4)

J. L. Austin, How to Do Things with Words

Sections 1-3
Sections 4-7
Sections 8-12
"Performative Utterances"
Kinds of Illocutionary Acts (diagram in PDF format)

H. P. Grice, "Logic and Conversation"

Notes on Grice and Lycan, chapter 13


Overview of the Class
Some Basic Distinctions
Quine, "Two Dogmas of Empiricism"
Some Logic Symbols
David Lewis, "Languages and Language" (very brief comments)
Metaphor (mostly notes on Lycan, chapter 14)
Vagueness (very loosely based on Roy Sorensen's SEP article)
"Hush" and the Philosophy of Language


The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy has a number of online articles relevant to the philosophy of language.  See in particular the articles on Descriptions, Frege, The Language of Thought Hypothesis, Pragmatics, Private Language, Reference, Singular Propositions, Structured Propositions, Bertrand Russell (don't miss the sound clips from his Nobel Prize acceptance speech), logical atomism, and various theories of truth, including the coherence theory, deflationary theory, identity theory, and revision theory.

Survey article by Mark Crimmins in the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Thomas C. Ryckman's links to online papers in the philosophy of language.

Last update: December 10, 2014
Curtis Brown | Philosophy of LanguagePhilosophy DepartmentTrinity University