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Instructor: Sara Copic. This course meets MW 3:35 – 4:50 p.m. in DE 307.

This is an introductory course to the philosophy of language. We will focus on historically significant theories of meaning and language learning. Some questions we will focus on include: How do names get to refer to their bearers? Are fictional claims like ‘Santa Claus wears a red suit’ true or false? What makes communication with other speakers possible? How do we learn language at all? What makes systems of animal communication similar to and yet significantly different from natural languages like English, Spanish or Japanese? Do the languages we speak place limits on what we can think? What is the relationship between language and thought?

This course will be partly lecture based but will also include active learning strategies, such as in-class writing reflections and group work. We will focus on understanding some of the most important theories of meaning and of language learning, with always an eye toward the arguments for these theories. In this class, you can expect to learn how to read difficult texts, how to reconstruct the views and arguments, and how to assess how good these arguments really are.