Note: You may download the original syllabus as a PDF. The syllabus may (and probably will) change during the semester. The version here should always be current.
As well as a list of readings and such, this page contains links to the various papers we shall be reading.1 The files are usually available in two forms. There are (i) a DjVu file and (ii) a PDF file. Why both forms? They are intended for different uses.
There is another advantage to DjVu. Because DjVu is a file format specifically designed for scanned text, the DjVu encoder produces files that are typically much smaller than the corresponding PDFs. For example, the PDF for Davidson's "Theories of Meaning and Learnable Langauges" is 5.3 MB; the DjVu, which was created from the PDF, is 270K! That's about 5% the size! DjVu does not always get that much reduction, but the reduction is almost always substantial.
To view the PDFs, you will of course need a PDF reader. For the DjVu files, you will need a DjVu reader. Free browser plugins for Windows and Mac OSX are available from Caminova; Linux users can likely just install the
djviewlibre package using their distro's package management system. Another option is Okular, which was originally written for Linux's KDE Desktop Environment but which can now be run, experimentally, on Windows and OSX, as well. A list of other DjVu resources is maintained at djvu.org.
The program used to convert PDFs to DjVu is a simple Bash script I wrote myself, pdf2djvu. It relies upon other programs to do the real work and should run on OSX as well as on Linux.
|25 January||Introductory Meeting|
|30 January||H.P. Grice, "Meaning", Philosophical Review 66 (1957), pp. 377-88 (DjVu, JSTOR)|
|1 February||H.P. Grice,"Logic and Conversation", in Studies in the Ways of Words (Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 1989), pp. 22-40 (DjVu, PDF)|
|Meaning and Truth-Theory: Davidson's Proposal|
|6 February||Donald Davidson, "Theories of Meaning and Learnable Languages", in his Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984), pp. 3-15 (DjVu, PDF)|
|8 February||Donald Davidson, "Truth and Meaning", Synthese 17 (1967), 304-23; reprinted in Inquiries, pp. 17-36 (DjVu, Springer)|
|13 February||No class due to lack of heat!|
|15 February||John Foster, "Meaning and Truth-Theory", in G. Evans and J. McDowell, eds., Truth and Meaning: Essays in Semantics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1976), pp. 1-32 (DjVu, PDF)
You need only read sections 1-2, on pages 1-16, carefully. The discussion in section 3 concerns Davidson's "revised thesis", which we have not year encountered, and section 4 contains Foster's emendation of Davidson's position, which is known to fall to a version of Foster's own objection to Davdison.
|17 February||Donald Davidson, "Reply to Foster", in Inquiries, pp. 171-9 (DjVu, PDF), and "Radical Interpretation", Dialectica 27 (1973), pp. 314-328; also in Inquiries, pp. 125-39 (DjVu, Wiley Online)
Davidson's treatment owes, as he notes, a great deal to Quine's notion of radical translation, for which see W. V. O. Quine, Word and Object (Cambridge MA: MIT Press, 1960), Ch. 2.
Topics for first short paper announced
|20 February||No Class: Presidents' Day Holiday|
|24 February||David Lewis, "Languages and Language", in his Philosophical Papers, vol.1 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1983), pp. 163-88 (DjVu, Minnesota Studies)
You should concentrate on sections I-III, in which Lewis summarizes the more extensive account of linguistic meaning given in his book Convention (Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 1969), and on pp. 175-81 (pp. 17-24 of the PDF), where Lewis discusses a series of objections connected to compositionality.
First short paper due
|27 & 29 February||James Higginbotham, "Truth and Understanding", Philosophical Studies 65 (1992), pp. 3-16 (DjVu, Springer), and Scott Soames, "Truth, Meaning, and Understanding", Philosophical Studies 65 (1992), pp. 17-35 (DjVu, Springer)
See also Scott Soames, "Semantics and Semantic Competence", in S. Schiffer and S. Steele, eds., Cognition and Representation (Boulder CO: Westview Press, 1988), pp. 185-207. For an approach that is different from but similar to Higginbotham's, see Richard Larson and Gabriel Segal, Knowledge of Meaning: An Introduction to Semantic Theory (Cambridge MA: MIT Press, 1995), Chs. 1-2.
John Searle, "Metaphor", in his Expression and Meaning (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979), pp. 76-116 (DjVu).
Topics for second short paper announced
|Sense and Reference|
|19 & 21 March||
Gottlob Frege, "On Sense and Meaning", in his Collected Papers, ed. by B. McGuiness, tr. by M. Black and P. Geach (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1984), pp. 157-77 (DjVu).
An earlier translation is available from JSTOR.
Second short paper due
|26, 28, & 30 March||
No Class: Spring Break
An excellent resource for questions about descriptions is Stephen Neale, Descriptions, which covers an enormous amount of material.
Russell also discusses these issues further in Problems in Philosophy and "The Philosophy of Logical Atomism".
There are general issues here about presupposition' and other pragmatic phenomena. There is a good collection of papers on these matter entitled Pragmatics.
See also the discussion in Neale's Descriptions. There is now a very large literature on these issues.
David Kaplan, "Dthat", in P. Cole, ed., Pragmatics (New York: Academic Press, 1978), pp. 221-43 (DjVu)
See also Kaplan's classic paper "Demonstratives".
Topics for third short paper announced
Gareth Evans, "Understanding Demonstratives", in his Collected Papers (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985), pp. 291-321 (DjVu)
|30 April-8 May||
Final Exam, or Final Paper Due
1Where possible, links to publically accessible electronic copies of the papers are included. For copyright reasons, however, many of the links require a username and password available only to those enrolled in the course.