philosophy of language

course description

This course is an introduction to the philosophy of language. This is a large area that encompasses many topics, including meaning, truth, the relationship between logic and language, and the distinctions between syntax, semantics, and pragmatics. In the first half of the course, we will review some classics in this area by Frege, Russell, Tarski, Quine, Wittgenstein, Austin, Grice, Kripke, Putnam, Davidson, and Evans. We will consider how these issues intersect in some of the central "problems" of philosophy of language, such as vagueness and language learning.

In the final section of the course, we will explore more recent interdisciplinary work on the way that language evolved from the protolinguistic communication systems of non-human animals, including views such as that of Dorit Bar-On, Joƫlle Proust, and Tecumseh Fitch.