Katz Philosophy Of Language Essays

PHILOSOPHY OF LANGUAGE

Last Updated August 2005

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  1. The Paper
  2. Basic Reading
  3. Topics

1. The Paper

Philosophy of Language is organised around general questions of language and meaning. The nature of language has long been an obsession of philosophers, more recently it has also become the focus of empirical investigation in linguistics. The subject is concerned both with the most general and abstract aspects of language, meaning and knowledge of both and with more specific problems that arise in understanding particular aspects of natural languages.

Certain more elementary aspects of the philosophy of language are covered in Logic and Metaphysics, and it is good to have a grounding in issues surrounding reference and truth covered on that paper. On this paper you will be focusing more on general methodological considerations about meaning and reference: what form should a theory of meaning take; in what does knowledge of meaning consist; what kinds of facts are there about meaning? Certain figures have dominated discussion of language in the twentieth century, from Frege, and Russell on to Wittgenstein's emphasis on use of language over representation, to Quine's scepticism about the determinacy of translation, Grice's attempt to explicate meaning in terms of speaker's intentions, Davidson's work on theories of truth and radical interpretation, to the consequences of Chomskian linguistics. In addition to studying the work of these philosophers, you will have the opportunity to look at particular problems concerning indexical expressions; proper names; the nature of definite descriptions; pronouns and quantified phrases in natural language; indirect contexts and propositional attitude ascriptions; adverbs, adjectives and metaphor.

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2. Basic Reading

Introductory Reading

  • Larson, R., and G. Segal. 1995. Knowledge of Meaning: an Introduction to Semantic Theory. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. A thorough introduction to philosophy of language for both philosophy and linguistics students.

  • Platts, M. 1997. Ways of Meaning: an Introduction to Philosophy of Language. 2nd ed. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. An excellent exposition of the Davidsonian approach to meaning.

  • Neale, S. 1990. Descriptions. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. A clear defence & elaboration of Russell's theory of descriptions, as updated by Kripke and Evans.

  • Blackburn, S. 1984. Spreading the Word: Groundings in the Philosophy of Language. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Readable, if opinionated, treatment of the central areas of philosophy of language, with large amounts of metaphysics thrown in for free.

  • Lycan, W. 1999. Philosophy of Language: A Contemporary Introduction. London: Routledge. Nomen est omen. Covers competently main topics.

  • McCulloch, G. 1989. The Game of the Name: Introducing Logic, Language and Mind. Oxford: Clarendon Press. A vigorous introduction to issues in the theory of reference.

  • Taylor, K. 1998. Truth and Meaning. An Introduction to the Philosophy of Language. Oxford Blackwell. Contains among other things an exposition of intensional semantics.

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Anthologies

  • Hale, B. and C. Wright, eds. 1997. A Companion to the Philosophy of Language. Oxford: Blackwell. Contains essays by leading philosophers of language on key topics of this paper.

  • Ludlow, Peter, ed. 1997. Readings in the Philosophy of Language. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

  • Martinich, A. P. ed. 1996. The Philosophy of Language. 3rd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Contains most of the classic papers.

  • Harnish, R. M. ed. 1993. Basic Topics in the Philosophy of Language. New York: Harvester Wheatsheaf. An alternative source for many of the same papers, together with a useful abridgement of Kaplan's classic, Demonstratives.

  • Hawthorne, J. and D. Zimmermann. 2004. Language and Philosophical Linguistics. Philosophical Perspectives, vol. 17. Atascadero, Calif.: Ridgeview.

  • Moore, A. W. ed. 1993. Meaning & Reference. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Idiosyncratic selection of important papers.

  • Evans, G., and J. McDowell, eds. 1976. Truth & Meaning: Essays in Semantics. Oxford: Clarendon Press. State of the art papers in semantics & philosophy of language, c. 1976, including important papers by Davidson, Dummett, Evans, & Kripke.

  • Salmon, N., and S. Soames, eds. 1988. Propositions & Attitudes. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Despite its title, a selection of papers on direct reference theories.

  • Yourgrau, P. ed. 1990. Demonstratives. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Not what its title might suggest, but it does include important papers by Perry, Kaplan, Evans, & Anscombe.

  • Lepore, E. ed. 1986. Truth & Interpretation: Perspectives on the Philosophy of Donald Davidson. Oxford: Blackwell.

  • Tomberlin, J. ed. 1993. Language and Logic. Philosophical Perspectives, vol. 7. Atascadero, Calif.: Ridgeview.

  • —. 1994. Logic and Language. Philosophical Perspectives, vol. 8. Atascadero, Calif.: Ridgeview.

  • —. 2002. Language and Mind. Philosophical Perspectives, vol. 16. Atascadero, Calif.: Ridgeview.

  • Katz, J. J. ed. 1985. The Philosophy of Linguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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Key Works

  • Translations from the Philosophical Writings of Gottlob Frege, edited by Peter Geach and Max Black, (3rd ed., Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1980). Many of the key papers have now been collected in The Frege Reader, edited by M. Beaney, (Oxford: Blackwell, 1997).

  • Philosophical Investigations, translated by G. E. M. Anscombe, (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1968; 3rd ed, 1972). Pt. 1, the first 135 odd sections of this work emphasise Wittgenstein's gnomic insistence on the role of use in understanding meaning.

  • Austin, J. L. 1962. How to Do Things with Words. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Austin's original statement of speech-act theory which has been influential in both areas of linguistics and philosophy.

  • Davidson, D. 1984. Inquiries into Truth & Interpretation. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Contains almost all of Davidson's important papers in the philosophy of language.

  • Chomsky, N. 1985. Knowledge of Language: its Nature, Origins, and Use. New York: Praeger. A good introduction to his theories for philosophers.

  • Dummett, M. 1993. The Seas of Language. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Includes his two papers on theory of meaning, together with his valedictory lecture on anti-realism.

  • Evans, G. 1982. Varieties of Reference, Oxford: Clarendon Press. Challenging investigation of singular thought and reference.

  • Grice, H. P. 1989. Studies in the Way of Words. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Includes, among other things, 'Meaning' and his William James lectures which outline the theory of conversational implicature.

  • Kripke, S. 1980, Naming and Necessity. Cambridge, Mass. Harvard University Press. Kripke's influential attack on Description Theories of Names.

  • Quine, W. V. 1960. Word & Object. Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press. Ch.2 is the original statement of Quine's views on radical translation.

  • Wilson, D., and D. Sperber. 1995. Relevance: Communication and Cognition. 2nd ed. Oxford: Blackwell. An influential theory of communication by linguists but with philosophical implications.

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3. Topics

Theories of Meaning

One of the most fruitful ways of addressing the question of what meaning is has been to ask what form a theory of meaning for a particular language should take. In this the work of Donald Davidson has been most influential. Davidson suggests that an adequate theory of meaning for a given language would be one which would suffice for the interpretation of speakers of that language. In addition, he has suggested that a Tarskian theory of truth (look at the reading under the semantic conception of truth in the chapter Logic and Metaphysics) could be employed as an adequate theory of meaning for natural languages.

Is it really possible that there could be a theory of truth for a natural language such as English-how is one to cope with context-sensitive expressions, for example? A truth theory is interpretive where the right-hand side of its T-theorems translate the sentence mentioned on the left-hand side: e.g., '"Elephants wear tutus in the wild" is true in English if and only if elephants wear tutus in the wild' is an interpretive T-theorem, while '"Polar bears smoke cigars" is true in English if and only if London is south of Canberra' is not. A theory of truth could do duty as a theory of meaning only if it was interpretive, but it is conceivable that a theory of truth could be true and not interpretive. What constraints can be imposed on constructing a theory of truth for a natural language which would narrow down the options only to the interpretive ones, and how could a theorist know that a theory was interpretive without already knowing that the right-hand side of the theorems translate the left-hand side?

While the details of Davidson's own account are the subject of much controversy, the idea that we should look at problems of language in terms of the need to construct a systematic and compositional theory of meaning for problematic constructions has been highly influential and is reflected in the way many philosophers both frame and attempt to settle the problems discussed further below.

Meaning & Truth

  • Davidson, D. 1967. 'Truth & Meaning'. Synthese 17: 304-323. Reprinted in Inquiries into Truth & Interpretation. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984.

  • —. 1976. 'Reply to Foster'. In G. Evans, and J. McDowell, eds., Truth & Meaning: Essays in Semantics. Oxford: Clarendon Press, reprinted in D. Davidson, Inquiries into Truth & Interpretation. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984.

  • —. 1973. 'Radical Interpretation'. Dialectica 27: 314-328. Reprinted in Inquiries into Truth & Interpretation. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984.

  • —. 1977. 'Reality Without Reference'. Dialectica 31: 247-258. Reprinted in D. Davidson, Inquiries into Truth & Interpretation. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984.

  • —. 1990. 'The Structure & Content of Truth'. Journal of Philosophy 87: 279-328.

  • Blackburn, S. 1984. Spreading the Word: Groundings in the Philosophy of Language. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Ch.8.

  • Davies, M. 1981. Meaning, Quantification, Necessity: Themes in Philosophical Logic. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

  • Evans, G., and J. McDowell, eds. 1976. Truth & Meaning: Essays in Semantics. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Introduction.

  • Larson, R., and G. Segal. 1995. Knowledge of Meaning: an Introduction to Semantic Theory. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. Chs. 1-3.

  • Sainsbury, M. 1980. 'Understanding and Theories of Meaning'. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 80: 127-144.

  • Segal, G. 1999. 'How a truth theory can do duty as a theory of meaning', in: U.M. Zeglen, Donald Davidson: Truth, Meaning, and Knowledge. London: Routledge.

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Meaning & Anti-Realism

Dummett has been an influential discussant of Davidson's approach to meaning: he both emphasises the need to see an account of meaning as an account of understanding; and that meaning is use. While endorsing Davidson's aim to construct a systematic meaning theory for natural languages, he challenges the idea that truth should be the central notion used to construct such a theory; he places much weight on the need for speakers to be able to manifest their knowledge of meaning, and assertibility conditions in their use of language.

  • Dummett, M. 1959. 'Truth'. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 59: 141-62. Reprinted in Truth & Other Enigmas. London: Duckworth,1978.

  • —. 1976. 'What is a Theory of Meaning II?'. In G. Evans, and J. McDowell, eds., Truth & Meaning: Essays in Semantics. Oxford: Clarendon Press; reprinted in The Seas of Language. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993.

  • —. 1993. 'Realism and Anti-realism'. Reprinted in The Seas of Language. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993.

  • —. 1991. The Logical Basis of Metaphysics, London: Duckworth. Chs. 14 & 15.

  • Craig, E. 1982. 'Meaning, Use & Privacy'. Mind 91: 541-564.

  • Wright, C. 1981. 'Anti Realism & Revisionism'. Reprinted in Realism, Meaning & Truth. 2nd ed. Oxford: Blackwell, 1993.

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Grice's Theory

Grice sought to explain facts about the meanings of public languages in terms of facts about mental states and social conventions. A speaker has the intention to lead the audience to have a certain response to his speech act and to recognise his intention in doing so. Are there problems specifying the relevant response, and the intentions involved? Can the account be generalised from one off communication to a shared language? Even if one does not look for a reduction of meaning to the mentalistic facts that Grice appeals to, can his approach give us some account of the nature of speech-acts?

  • Grice, H. P. 1957. 'Meaning'. Philosophical Review 66: 377-388. Reprinted in Studies in the Way of Words. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1989.

  • Avramides, A. 1989. Meaning & Mind: an Examination of a Gricean Account of Language. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

  • Blackburn, S. 1984. Spreading the Word: Groundings in the Philosophy of Language. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Ch.4.

  • Neale, S. 1992. 'Paul Grice and the Philosophy of Language'. Linguistics and Philosophy 15: 509-559.

  • Rumfitt, I. 1995. 'Truth Conditions and Communication'. Mind 104: 827-862.

  • Strawson, P. F. 1964 'Intention and Convention in Speech Acts'. Philosophical Review 73: 439-460. Reprinted in Logico-Linguistic Papers. London: Methuen, 1971.

  • Schiffer, S. 1972. Meaning. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Introduction.

  • Sperber, D and D. Wilson. 2002. 'Truthfulness and Relevance'. Mind 111: 583-682.

  • Travis, C. 'The Annals of Analysis'. Mind 100: 237-264.

  • —. 1997. 'Pragmatics'. In B. Hale, and C. Wright, eds., A Companion to the Philosophy of Language. Oxford: Blackwell.

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Quine & Indeterminacy of Meaning

Quine challenges the assumption that there are determinate facts about what someone means. He introduces the much appealed to notion of a radical translator. All facts about meaning, Quine claims, must be accessible to such a translator. According to Quine, it is possible that there could be distinct translation manuals for a language each with an equally good claim to being the correct translation manual.

  • Quine, W. V. 1960. Word & Object. Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press. Ch.2.

  • —. 1990. The Pursuit of Truth. 2nd ed. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Chs.1-3.

  • —. 1970. 'On the Reasons for the Indeterminacy of Translation'. Journal of Philosophy 67: 178-183.

  • —. 1897. 'Indeterminacy of Translation Again'. Journal of Philosophy 84: 5-10.

  • —. 1975. 'Mind & Verbal Dispositions'. In S. Guttenplan, ed., Mind & Language, Oxford: Clarendon Press; reprinted in A. W. Moore, ed., Meaning & Reference. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993.

  • Chomsky, N. 1969. 'Quine's Empirical Assumptions'. In D. Davidson, and J. Hintikka, eds., Words & Objections: Essays on the Work of W.V. Quine. Dordrecht: Reidel.

  • Evans, G. 1975. 'Identity & Predication'. Journal of Philosophy 72: 343-363. Reprinted in Collected Papers. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985.

  • George, A. 1986. 'Whence and Whither the Debate Between Quine and Chomsky?'. Journal of Philosophy 83: 489-499.

  • Neale. S. 1987. 'Meaning, Grammar, and Indeterminacy'. Dialectica 41: 301-319.

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Knowledge and Rules of Language

What is it to know a language or to follow rules of language? Chomskian linguistics, as a matter of empirical enquiry, posits a language faculty possessed by each human in virtue of which he or she can come to acquire a language. If Chomsky is right, is it true that we know the languages we speak? Some philosophers have sought to extend Chomsky's account of knowledge of syntax to knowledge of meaning, and there has been a lively debate over what implicit or tacit knowledge of meaning could consist in.

  • Chomsky, N. 1985. Knowledge of Language: its Nature, Origins, and Use. New York: Praeger. Chs.1 & 2.

  • —. 1988. Language and Problems of Knowledge: the Managua Lectures. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

  • —. 1995. 'Language and Nature'. Mind 104: 1-61; reprinted in New Horizons in the Study of Language and Mind, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

  • Higginbotham, J. 1989. 'Knowledge of Reference'. In A. George, ed., Reflections on Chomsky. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

  • —. 1987. 'The Autonomy of Syntax & Semantics'. In J. Garfield, ed., Modularity in Knowledge Representation & Natural Language Understanding. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

  • Segal, G. 1994. 'Priorities in the Philosophy of Thought'. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 68: 107-130.

  • Larson, R., and G. Segal. 1995. Knowledge of Meaning: an Introduction to Semantic Theory. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. Chs.1 & 13.

  • Evans, G. 1981. 'Semantic Theory and Tacit Knowledge'. In C. Leich, ed., Wittgenstein: to Follow a Rule. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. Reprinted in Collected Papers. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985.

  • Davies, M. 1987. 'Tacit Knowledge and Semantic Theory: Can a Five Percent Difference Matter?'. Mind 96: 441-462.

  • Wright, C. 1986. 'Theories of Meaning & Speakers' Knowledge'. Reprinted in Realism, Meaning & Truth. 2nd ed. Oxford: Blackwell, 1993.

  • Smith, Barry C. 1992. 'Understanding Language'. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 92: 109-139.

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Meaning as Use: Realism and Irrealism about Semantics

Where the dominant approach to the study of meaning has focused on reference and truth, some philosophers have instead stressed the need to focus on the use that words are put to in order to explain what meaning is. Use-based approaches to meaning have sometimes been thought to lead to scepticism about the existence of rules or of determinate meaning facts. Some have argued that such irrealism about semantic facts is incoherent; others have argued that use-theories do not lead to these consequences anyway.

  • Wittgenstein, L. 1968. Philosophical Investigations. Translated by G. E. M. Anscombe. 3rd ed. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1972. See esp. Pt. 1 secs. 1-315

  • Brandom, R. 1994. Making it Explicit: Reasoning, Representing, and Discursive Commitment. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

  • Horwich, P. 1998. Meaning. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • —. 1990. 'Wittgenstein & Kripke on the Nature of Meaning'. Mind & Language 5: 105-121.

  • —. 2004. 'A Use Theory of menaing'. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 68: 351-372.

  • Kripke, S. 1982. Wittgenstein on Rules & Private Language: an Elementary Exposition. Oxford: Blackwell.

  • Schiffer, S. 1987. Remnants of Meaning. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

  • Boghossian, P. 1989. 'The Rule Following Considerations'. Mind 98: 507-549.

  • —. 1990. 'The Status of Content'. Philosophical Review 99: 157-184.

  • Wright, C. 1992. Truth & Objectivity. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Ch.6.

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Reference

Indexicals & Demonstratives

Indexical expressions appear to have a constant conventional meaning across different speakers, while varying in their reference. Can a semantic theory both account for how indexicals have a constant meaning, and yet in a context fix a referent? Do indexicals cause special problems for a Fregean theory of meaning?

  • Frege, G. 'Thoughts'. Reprinted in N. Salmon, and S. Soames, eds., Propositions & Attitudes. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988; also in M. Beaney, ed., The Frege Reader. Oxford: Blackwell, 1997.

  • Kaplan, D. 1979. 'On the Logic of Demonstratives'. Journal of Philosophical Logic 8: 81-98. Reprinted in P. Yourgrau, ed., Demonstratives. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990.

  • —. 1977. Demonstratives. Reprinted in Joseph Almog, John Perry, and Howard Wettstein, eds., Themes from Kaplan. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989.

  • Castañeda, H-N. 1989. Thinking, Language and Experience. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

  • Perry, J. 1977. 'Frege on Demonstratives'. Philosophical Review 86: 474-497. Reprinted in P. Yourgrau, ed., Demonstratives. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990.

  • Evans, G. 1981. 'Understanding Demonstratives'. Reprinted in Collected Papers. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985; and in P. Yourgrau, ed., Demonstratives. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990.

  • Burge, T. 1974. 'Demonstrative Constructions, Reference and Truth'. The Journal of Philosophy 71: 205-223.

  • Larson, R., and G. Segal. 1995. Knowledge of Meaning: an Introduction to Semantic Theory. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. Ch.6.

  • Taylor, B. 1980. 'Truth Theory for Indexical Languages'. In M. Platts, ed., Reference, Truth & Reality: Essays on the Philosophy of Language. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

  • Rumfitt, I. 1994. 'Frege's Theory of Predication: An Elaboration and Defense, with Some New Applications'. Philosophical Review 103: 599-637.

  • Higginbotham, J. 1993. 'Priorities in the Philosophy of Thought'. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 68: 85-106.

  • —. 1995. 'Tensed Thoughts'. Mind & Language 10: 226-249.

  • Sainsbury, M. 1998. 'Indexicals and Reported Speech'. In T. Smiley, ed., Philosophical Logic. Oxford: Published for the British Academy by Oxford University Press.

  • King. J. 2000. Complex Demonstratives: A Quantificational View. Cambridge, Mass. M.I.T. Press.

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Proper Names

Must a name have a bearer in order to have a sense? Does one have to know which person is being referred to in understanding a name? Could we treat names as predicates rather than referring expressions?

  • Kripke, S. 1980. Naming & Necessity. Oxford: Blackwell.

  • Frege, G. 'On Sense and Reference'. Reprinted in A. W. Moore, ed., Meaning & Reference. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993; and in Peter Geach and Max Black, eds., Translations from the Philosophical Writings of Gottlob Frege. 3rd ed. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1980; and in M. Beaney, ed., The Frege Reader. Oxford: Blackwell, 1997.

  • Bach, K. 1987. Thought and Reference. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

  • Blackburn, S. 1984. Spreading the Word: Groundings in the Philosophy of Language. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Ch.9.

  • Katz. J. 2001. 'The End of Millianism: Multiple Bearers, Improper Names and Compositional Meaning'. The Journal of Philosophy 98: 137-168.

  • Burge, T. 1973. 'Reference and Proper Names'. Journal of Philosophy 70: 425-439.

  • —. 1983. 'Russell's Problem and Intentional Identity'. In J. Tomberlin, ed., Agent, Language & the Structure of the World: Essays Presented to Hector-Neri Castañeda, with his replies. Indianapolis: Hackett.

  • Donnellan, K. 1974. 'Speaking of Nothing'. Philosophical Review 83: 3-31.

  • Evans, G. 1973. 'The Causal Theory of Proper Names'. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 47: 187-208. Reprinted in Collected Papers. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985; and in A. W. Moore, ed., Meaning & Reference. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993; and in A. P. Martinich, ed., The Philosophy of Language. 3rd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.

  • —. 1982. The Varieties of Reference. Edited by John McDowell. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Ch.11, but also look at Chs.1-3, 6, & 9.

  • Heck, 1995. 'The Sense of Communication'. Mind 104: 79-106.

  • Larson, R., and G. Segal. 1995. Knowledge of Meaning: an Introduction to Semantic Theory. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. Ch.5.

  • McCulloch, G. 1989. The Game of the Name: Introducing Logic, Language and Mind. Oxford: Clarendon Press. See esp. Chs.4 & 8.

  • McDowell, J. 1977. 'The Sense and Reference of a Proper Name'. Mind 86:159-185. Reprinted in A. W. Moore, ed., Meaning & Reference. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993; and in M. Platts, ed., Reference, Truth & Reality: Essays on the Philosophy of Language. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

  • Recanati, F. 1993. Direct Reference: from Language to Thought. Oxford: Blackwell.

  • Sainsbury, R.M. 2005. Reference without Referents. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Soames, S. 2002. Beyond Rigidity. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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Descriptions

What is the best treatment of definite descriptions in a theory of meaning? Does the distinction between referential and attributive uses bear on this? Do recent theories of quantification in natural languages bear on the theory of descriptions?

  • Russell, B. 1905. 'On Denoting'. Mind 14: 479-93. Reprinted in R. C. Marsh, ed., Logic & Knowledge: Essays 1901-1950. London: Allen & Unwin, 1956.

  • —. 1919. 'Descriptions'. In Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy. London: Allen & Unwin, Ch. 19; reprinted in A. W. Moore, ed., Meaning & Reference. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993.

  • Strawson, P.F. 'On Referring'. Mind 59:269-86. Reprinted in Logico Linguistic Papers. London: Methuen, 1971; and in A. W. Moore, ed., Meaning & Reference. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993.

  • Donnellan, K. 1966. 'Reference & Definite Descriptions'. Philosophical Review 77: 203-15. Reprinted in A. P. Martinich, ed., The Philosophy of Language. 3rd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.

  • Kripke, S. 1977. 'Speaker's Reference and Semantic Reference'. In P. French, T. Uehling, and H. Wettstein, eds., Studies in the Philosophy of Language. Midwest Studies in Philosophy. Vol. 2. Revised edition, Contemporary Perspectives on the Philosophy of Language. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1979. Reprinted in A. P. Martinich, ed., The Philosophy of Language. 3rd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.

  • Evans, G. 1982. The Varieties of Reference. Edited by John McDowell. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Chs.2 & 9.3.

  • Neale, S. 1990. Descriptions. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. See esp. Chs.2 & 5.

  • Larson, R., and G. Segal. 1995. Knowledge of Meaning: an Introduction to Semantic Theory. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. Ch.9.

  • Bezuidenhout, A. 1997. 'Pragmatics, Semantic Underdetermination and the Referential/Attributive Distinction'. Mind 106: 375-409.

  • Bezuidenhout, A. and M Reimer (eds.) 2004. Descriptions and Beyond. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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Quantifiers in Natural Language & Anaphora

What treatment should we give of terms such as 'every', 'all', 'some', and 'most' in English? In first order logic we translate these using 'unary' quantifiers which attach to single predicates, simple or complex; but no such account is available for terms such as 'most' which seem to belong in the same category. The natural language equivalent of variables in a formal language seem to be pronouns, but are there different varieties of pronoun?

  • Larson, R., and G. Segal. 1995. Knowledge of Meaning: an Introduction to Semantic Theory. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. Chs. 8 & 10.

  • Davies, M. 1981. Meaning, Quantification, Necessity: Themes in Philosophical Logic. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Ch.6.

  • Dummett, M. 1981. Frege: Philosophy of Language. 2nd ed. London: Duckworth. Ch.15.

  • Geach, P. 1980. Reference & Generality: an Examination of some Medieval and Modern Theories. 3rd ed. Ithaca, N. Y.: Cornell University Press.

  • Wiggins, D. 1980. '"Most" and "All": Some Comments on a Familiar Programme and on the Logical Form of Quantified Sentences'. In M. Platts, ed., Reference, Truth & Reality: Essays on the Philosophy of Language. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

  • Evans, G. 1977. 'Pronouns, Quantifiers, and Relative Clauses (I)'. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 7: 467-536. Reprinted in Collected Papers. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985.

  • Neale, S. 1990. 'Descriptive Pronouns & Donkey Anaphora'. Journal of Philosophy 87: 113-150.

  • Sainsbury, R.M. 2002. 'Reference and Anaphora'. Philosophical Perspectives 16: 43-71.

  • Soames, S. 1994. 'Attitudes & Anaphora'. In J. Tomberlin, ed., Logic and Language, Philosophical Perspectives, vol. 8. Atascadero, Calif.: Ridgeview.

  • Kripke, S. 1976. 'Is There a Problem about Substitutional Quantification?'. In G. Evans, and J. McDowell, eds., Truth & Meaning: Essays in Semantics. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

  • Boolos, G. 1984. 'To Be is to Be A Value of a Variable (or to Be Some Values of Some Variables)'. Journal of Philosophy 81: 430-448.

  • Williamson, T. 'Everything'. Philosophical Perspectives 17: 415-465.

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Propositional Attitude Ascriptions

Many have the intuition that the sentence 'John said that Cary Grant lived in the next street' can be true while the sentence, 'John said that Archibald Leach lived in the next street' is false, even though Cary Grant is Archibald Leach. This suggests that words occurring within 'oblique contexts' have a significance over and above what they stand for. Frege sought to solve this problem by appeal to his theory of sense, but it is not clear how his approach can deal with the use of indexical expressions within subordinate clauses or with the existence of 'quantifying in' to attitude ascriptions-various recent accounts nevertheless attempt to develop Fregean ideas to handle such problems. An alternative approach has been offered by Davidson, with his paratactic theory, which seeks to preserve 'semantic innocence', allowing words to mean the same thing in different contexts, and seeking to avoid any commitment to the existence of abstract items such as Fregean thoughts or propositions. Kripke has questioned whether our intuitions here are coherent, with his notorious Pierre and Paderewski examples, and others have sought to explain the intuitions away as bearing solely on the pragmatics of attitude ascription and not on their semantics.

  • Frege, G. 'On Sense and Meaning'. Reprinted in A. W. Moore, ed., Meaning & Reference. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993; and in Peter Geach and Max Black, eds., Translations from the Philosophical Writings of Gottlob Frege. 3rd ed. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1980; and in M. Beaney, ed., The Frege Reader. Oxford: Blackwell, 1997.

  • Forbes, G. 1990. 'The Indispensability of Sinn'. Philosophical Review 99: 535-563.

  • Richard, M. 1990. Propositional Attitudes: an Essay on Thoughts and How we Ascribe Them. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Crimmins, M. 1992. Talk about Beliefs. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. Chs.1, 5 & 6.

  • Davidson, D. 1968. 'On Saying That'. Synthese 19: 130-146. Reprinted in D. Davidson, Inquiries into Truth & Interpretation. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984.

  • Burge, T. 1986. 'On Davidson's "Saying That"'. In E. Lepore, ed., Truth & Interpretation: Perspectives on the Philosophy of Donald Davidson. Oxford: Blackwell.

  • Schiffer, S. 1987. Remnants of Meaning. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. Ch. 5.

  • Higginbotham, J. 1986. 'Linguistic Theory and Davidson's Program in Semantics'. In E. Lepore, ed., Truth & Interpretation: Perspectives on the Philosophy of Donald Davidson. Oxford: Blackwell.

  • Segal, G. 1989. 'A Preference for Sense and Reference'. Journal of Philosophy 86: 73-89.

  • Larson, R., and G. Segal. 1995. Knowledge of Meaning: an Introduction to Semantic Theory. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. Ch.11.

  • Rumfitt, I. 1993. 'Content and Context: The Paratactic Theory Revisited & Revised'. Mind 102: 429-454.

  • Kripke, S. 1979. 'A Puzzle about Belief'. In A. Margalit, ed., Meaning and Use. Dordrecht: Reidel. Reprinted in N. Salmon, and S. Soames, eds., Propositions & Attitudes. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988.

  • Salmon, N. 1986. Frege's Puzzle. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

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Sense, Force & Mood

Can a semantic theory given in terms of truth provide an account of non indicative sentences in natural languages? What is the connection between mood and type of speech act performed?

  • Dummett, M. 1991. The Logical Basis of Metaphysics. London: Duckworth. pp.113 121.

  • —. 1993. 'Mood, Force & Convention'. In The Seas of Language. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

  • Davidson, D. 1984. 'Moods & Performances'. In Inquiries into Truth & Interpretation. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

  • Austin, J. L. 1962. How to Do Things with Words. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

  • Green, M. S. 1997. 'On the Autonomy of Linguistic Meaning'. Mind 106: 217-243.

  • Segal, G. 1990. 'In the Mood for a Semantic Theory'. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 91: 103-118.

  • Pendlebury, M. 1986. 'Against the Power of Force: Reflections on the Meaning of Mood'. Mind 95: 361-372.

  • Hornsby, J. 1986. 'A Note on Non-Indicatives'. Mind 95: 92-99.

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Adverbs

What account can we give of adverbs? Can we best understand our use of action verbs in terms of quantification over events?

  • Davidson, D. 1980. 'The Logical Form of Action Sentences'. In Essays on Actions & Events. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

  • Wiggins, D. 1985. 'Verbs and Adverbs and some other Modes of Grammatical Combination'. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 86: 273-306.

  • Bennett, J. 1985. 'Adverb Dropping Inferences and the Lemmon Criterion'. In E. Lepore, and B. McLaughlin, eds., Actions and Events: Perspectives on the Philosophy of Donald Davidson. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

  • Taylor, B. 1985. Modes of Occurrence: Verbs, Adverbs, and Events. Oxford: Blackwell.

  • Higginbotham, J. 1983. 'The Logic of Perceptual Reports: An Extensional Alternative to Situation Semantics'. Journal of Philosophy 80: 100-127.

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Language, Conventions & Idiolects

Is there such a thing as a common language shared by a social group? Or is the notion of a shared language simply a socio political fiction? Chomsky gives one reason for rejecting shared languages and Davidson another.

  • Davidson, D. 1986. 'A Nice Derangement of Epitaphs'. In E. Lepore, ed., Truth & Interpretation: Perspectives on the Philosophy of Donald Davidson. Oxford: Blackwell.

  • Dummett, M. 1986. 'Reply to Davidson'. In E. Lepore, ed., Truth & Interpretation: Perspectives on the Philosophy of Donald Davidson. Oxford: Blackwell.

  • Burge, T. 1975. 'On Knowledge and Convention'. Philosophical Review 84: 249-255.

  • —.1989.'Wherein is Language Social?'. In A. George, ed., Reflections on Chomsky. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

  • George, A. 1990. 'Whose Language is it Anyway? Some Notes on Idiolects'. Philosophical Quarterly 40: 275-298.

  • Higginbotham, J. 1989. 'Knowledge of Reference'. In A. George, ed., Reflections on Chomsky. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

  • Laurence, S. 1996. 'A Chomskian Alternative to Convention Based Semantics'. Mind 105: 269-301.

  • Lewis, D. 1975. 'Languages and Language'. Reprinted in Philosophical Papers. Vol.I. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983.

  • Peacocke, C. 1976. 'Truth Definitions & Actual Languages'. In G. Evans, and J. McDowell, eds., Truth & Meaning: Essays in Semantics. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

  • Schiffer, S. 1993. 'Actual-Language Relations'. In J. Tomberlin, ed., Language and Logic. Philosophical Perspectives, vol. 7. Atascadero, Calif.: Ridgeview.

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Metaphor

What is metaphor? Is there a distinction to be drawn between literal and metaphorical meaning? Can a systematic theory be given of metaphorical meaning?

  • Davidson, D. 1984. 'What Metaphors Mean'. In Inquiries into Truth & Interpretation. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

  • Black, M. 1979. 'How Metaphors Work: a Reply to Davidson'. In S. Sacks, ed., On Metaphor. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

  • Goodman, N. 1981. 'Metaphor as Moonlighting'. In M. Johnson, ed., Philosophical Perspectives on Metaphor. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

  • Moran, R. 1997. 'Metaphor'. In B. Hale, and C. Wright, eds., A Companion to the Philosophy of Language. Oxford: Blackwell.

  • Cooper, D. 1986. Metaphor. Oxford: Blackwell.

  • Davies, M. 1983. 'Idiom and Metaphor'. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 83: 67-86.

  • Wilson, D., and D. Sperber. 1986. 'Loose Talk'. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 86: 153-172.

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