Philosophy 1760: Syllabus

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

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.

Class Schedule

DateReadings, Etc
25 January Introductory Meeting
Literal Meaning
27 January

J. L. Austin, "Three Ways of Spilling Ink", Philosophical Review 75 (1966), pp. 427-440 (DjVu, JSTOR).

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)
3 February


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)
10 February Discussion
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
22 February Discussion
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.
2 March


Metaphorical Meaning
5 March

John Searle, "Metaphor", in his Expression and Meaning (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979), pp. 76-116 (DjVu).

7 March

Donald Davidson, "What Metaphors Mean", Critical Inquiry 5 (1978), pp. 31-47, also in Inquiries, pp. 245-64 (DjVu, JSTOR).

9 March Discussion
12 March

Josef Stern, "Metaphor as Demonstative", Journal of Philosophy 82 (1985), pp. 677-710 (DjVu, JSTOR).

14 March

Catherine Wearing, "Metaphor and What Is Said", Mind and Language 21 (2006), pp. 310-332 (DjVu, Wiley Online).

16 March Discussion
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.

23 March Discussion
Second short paper due
26, 28, & 30 March

No Class: Spring Break

2 April

Bertrand Russell, "On Denoting", Mind 14 (1905), pp. 479-93 (DjVu, JSTOR).

An excellent resource for questions about descriptions is Stephen Neale, Descriptions, which covers an enormous amount of material.

4 April

Bertrand Russell, "Knowledge by Acquaintance and Knowledge by Description", Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 11 (1910-11), pp. 108-28 (DjVu, JSTOR)

Russell also discusses these issues further in Problems in Philosophy and "The Philosophy of Logical Atomism".

6 April Discussion

9 April

P.F. Strawson, "On Referring", Mind 59 (1950), pp. 320-44 (DjVu, JSTOR); and Bertrand Russell, "Mr. Strawson on Referring", Mind 66 (1957), pp. 385-89 (DjVu, JSTOR).

There are general issues here about presupposition' and other pragmatic phenomena. There is a good collection of papers on these matter entitled Pragmatics.

11 April

Keith Donnellan, "Reference and Definite Descriptions", Philosophical Review 75 (1966), pp. 281-304 (DjVu, JSTOR)

13 April

Saul Kripke, "Speaker's Reference and Semantic Reference", Midwest Studies in Philosophy 2 (1977), pp. 255-76 (DjVu, PDF)

See also the discussion in Neale's Descriptions. There is now a very large literature on these issues.

16 April

No class

18 April


20 April

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
23 April

John Perry, "Frege on Demonstratives", Philosophical Review 86 (1977), pp. 474-497 (DjVu, JSTOR)

25 April

Gareth Evans, "Understanding Demonstratives", in his Collected Papers (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985), pp. 291-321 (DjVu)

27 April

Third short paper due

30 April-8 May

Reading Period

18 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.

Richard Heck Department of Philosophy Brown University

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