Language is used for communication. In part, this is because words mean things, and because we understand them. What is it to understand what someone says? What is it for words to mean what they do? How do we know what our words mean? And how does this knowledge enable us to use language as we do? We will study these questions and others. Readings will be taken from such philosophers as Noam Chomsky, Donald Davidson, Gareth Evans, H.P. Grice, Jim Higginbotham, Scott Soames, Peter Strawson, Crispin Wright, and others.
The course is intended to will provide students with an opinionated introduction to one part of the philosophy of language, and to prepare them to engage with some of the contemporary literature. It also will function as a general introduction to philosophy as done in the analytic style.