Philosophy 2120J:Philosophy of Language

General Information

Meetings are held Wednesday, 3-5.30, in J Walter Wilson, Room 302.

The instructor is Richard Heck. Office hours are Monday 2-3 and Wednesday 11-12.


The only required book is Gareth Evans, Varieties of Reference (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982). The other readings are available via the links below. Many of these are available only to members of the course, due to copyright restrictions, but links to publically available materials have been included where possible.

To view the PDFs, you will of course need a PDF reader, which you probably already have.

Many of the files are only available in DjVu, however, and most of the PDFs are also available as DjVu, in a "two per page" format (the way a photocopy of a book would be) Why 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, typically about one tenth the size, when dealing with scanned text.

To read the DjVu files, you will need a DjVu reader. Browser plugins for Windows and Mac OSX are available from Celartem. Many Linux users will already have a DjVu reader, since Okular (which is part of the KDE grapics module) supports DjVu. There is also a dedicated DjVu reader for Linux that can usually be installed via the djvulibre package. (Source code and packages are available at SourceForge, or you can install the package using your distro's package management system.) A list of other DjVu resources is maintained at

Several of the eBook readers available for iOS and Android also support DjVu. For iOS the most popular of these seems to be Stanza, though I do not use iOS and so have no relevant knowledge myself. For Android, the best I have found is EBookDroid, which is a truly remarkable product. Among other things, it will split "two per page" landscape pages into single pages and automatically crop to the text area (thus maximizing font size), just to start.

NOTE: When printing these files, make sure you print them in the correct mode: ‘landscape’ or ‘portrait’. In particular, two-to-a-page scanned pages should be printed in landscape mode, so that they come out the way they were photocopied. You will get very small text and a lot of blank paper if you print them portrait.


23 January

Introductory Meeting

30 January

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, JSTOR). Note that the JSTOR link is to an old translation.

Michael Dummett, "Frege's Distinction Between Sense and Reference", in Truth and Other Enigmas (Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 1978), pp. 116-44 (DjVu). We will be interested in the discussion on pp. 124-34.

Michael Dummett, "Frege's Myth of the Third Realm", in Frege and Other Philosophers (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991), pp. 249-62 (DjVu).

6 February

Michael Dummett, Frege: Philosophy of Language (Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 1973), Chs. 5 and 6 (DjVu for Ch. 5, DjVu for Ch. 6).

13 Feburary

Gottlob Frege, "Thoughts", in his Collected Papers, pp. 351-72 (DjVu, JSTOR). Note that the JSTOR link is to an old translation.

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

John Perry, "The Problem of the Essential Indexical", Noûs 13 (1979), pp. 3-21 (DjVu, JSTOR).

Perry's papers are also available in his collection, The Problem of the Essential Indexical, and Other Essays (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993).

20 February

David Kaplan, "Demonstratives", in Joseph Almog, et al., eds., Themes From Kaplan (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977), pp. 481-563 (DjVu); David Kaplan, "Afterthoughts", in Themes from Kaplan, pp. 565-614 (DjVu). Stephen Emet has contributed some notes that may help.

Optional: David Kaplan, "Dthat", in P. Cole, ed., Pragmatics (New York: Academic Press, 1978), pp. 221-43 (DjVu); Davis Lewis, "Index, Context, and Content", in Philosophical Papers, Volume 1 (Cambridge; Cambridge University Press, 1988), pp. 21-44 (DjVu)

27 February

Tyler Burge, "Belief De Re", Journal of Philosophy 74 (1977), pp. 338-362 (DjVu, JSTOR)

Tyler Burge, "Sinning Against Frege", Philosophical Review 88 (1979), pp. 398-432 (DjVu, JSTOR)

6 March

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

John McDowell, "On the Sense and Reference of a Proper Name", Mind 86 (1977), pp. 159-85 (DjVu, JSTOR)

John McDowell, "De Re Senses", Philosophical Quarterly 34 (1984), pp. 283-94 (DjVu, JSTOR)

13 March

Gareth Evans, Varieties of Reference (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982), Chs. 1-3

20 March

Gareth Evans, Varieties of Reference (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982), Chs. 4-5

27 March No Class: Spring Break
3 April

No Class: Instructor unavailable

10 April

Gareth Evans, Varieties of Reference (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982), Chs. 6 & 9

17 April

Guest Speaker: Robert May

Background reading: Robert May, "The Invariance of Sense", Journal of Philosophy 103 (2006), pp. 111-44 (DjVu, JSTOR).

24 April

Guest Speaker: Jason Stanley

Background reading: Jason Stanley, Know How, Chs. 3-4 (DjVu); David Chalmers, "On Sense and Intension", Philosophical Perspectives 16 (2002), pp. 135-82 (Wiley Online, HTML, DjVu

1 May

TBA (and not even sure if we will meet this day)