Instructor: Dean Pettit. This course meets Wednesdays from 1:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. in Caldwell 208.
This course is intended to provide an advanced survey of topics and methods of the philosophy of language. Originally emerging from work in the philosophy of mathematics, philosophical issues about language became prominent in the 20th century. Largely due to the influence of the logical positivists, emphasis on language came to dominate philosophy. In its heyday, many philosophers thought that all philosophical issues (ethics, epistemology, metaphysics, etc.) were properly understood as being about language; all philosophy is philosophy of language. This conception of the project of philosophy has waned in popularity and influence. Yet a core of philosophical issues specifically about language remain an ongoing and fruitful area of philosophical inquiry, and the analysis of language continues to inform philosophical inquiry more generally. An overarching goal of this course will be to understand why language is of philosophical interest at all and to understand the proper place of issues about language within philosophy. Topics covered will include descriptions, names, demonstratives, propositional attitudes, theory of meaning, the nature of language, and the epistemology of language.
Dean Pettit’s webpage