Phil/Ling 375: Meaning and Mind

Fall 2014


Class meeting time:  M W 4:00 – 5:15 PM            Instructor: Dr. JeeLoo Liu

Class location:  Hum-228                                        Office location: H-311(I)

Telephone: (657) 278-7560 (email preferred)       Office hours:             M W 11:00-11:30 am

E-mail:                                                         M W 2:30—3:30 pm

                                                                                                            or by appointment

Required Texts:  

1.     A.P. Martinich (Ed.) Philosophy of Language (fifth edition) Oxford University Press. 2012.  5th edition.

2.     Saul Kriple. Naming and Necessity. Harvard University Press (New edition), 1980.

Recommened Text:

3.     Steven Pinker. The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language. Harper Perennial Modern Classics.  


Catalogue Description:

Prerequisites: six units of philosophy, six units of linguistics or three units of each.  This course covers philosophical issues about language and mind, including topics such as meaning, reference, truth, speech act and belief. (Same as Ling 375).


Course Description: What is meaning? What is the nature of language? How does oneÕs speech convey what one means with oneÕs words? What is the relationship between language and mind? How is linguistic communication possible? This course serves as an introduction to philosophy of language, with the focus on the interplay between meaning and mind. What one thinks or says has a lot to do with oneÕs understanding of the meaning of words as well as the sociolinguistic conventions governing the usage of such words. We will explore a host of issues related to meaning and mind, such as the nature of language, the meaning of meaning, speech and communication, interpretation and belief report, naming and reference, etc. Students are expected to do all readings thoroughly and write homework assignments.  Class participation is strongly emphasized. 


Course Objectives  

  (1) to introduce students to the main topics and theories in 20th century Anglo-American philosophy of language;

  (2) to develop a theory of linguistic communication;

  (3) to teach students some important philosophical techniques of argumentation; and

(4) to improve each individual studentÕs ability to read critically and to write clearly and precisely.

Student Learning Goals:                                                                            

G1.Students will demonstrate general understanding of several key issues in contemporary philosophy of language and possess adequate knowledge of current philosophical discussions on such issues that concerns the connections between the content of our thoughts and the sociolinguistic community that surrounds us.

G2. Students will master the skills to write a philosophy paper that includes critical reasoning, sustained argumentation, and insight. Students will also learn the basics of doing research in philosophy.

G3. Students will demonstrate the ability to organize and present course materials in class. This training can enhance their ability to teach or orally communicate ideas in public.

G4. Students will improve their critical reading skills and be able to analyze and critique difficult analytic philosophical articles on their own.





Date                Content of discussion                                              Assignments for this class




M  8/25           Introductory Remarks: What is Philosophy of                      None



W  8/27           Language and Thought                                                            Pinker, Chapters 1, 3 


What is a language?


M  9/1             Labor Day [No School]


W  9/3             David Lewis: Languages and Language                                   PL pp. 656-674


Could there be a private language?


M  9/8             Wittgenstein: from Philosophical Investigations                    PL (6) pp. 661-668

                                                                                                                        [pdf. on Titanium]


W  9/10           Saul Kripke: On Rules and Private Language                         PL pp. 626-636         

                          Essay #1 due in class:?


What is a speech act?


M  9/15           J. L. Austin: Performative Utterances                                    PL pp. 136-145


W  9/17           John Searle: The Structure of Illocutionary Acts                   PL pp.146-156


How do I interpret what you mean?


M  9/22           W. V. Quine: Translation and Meaning                                  PL pp. 546-573


W  9/24           W. V. Quine: Translation and Meaning [ContÕd]                   PL pp. 546-573

                        Essay #2 due in class  


M  9/29           Donald Davidson: A Nice Derangement of Epitaphs             PL pp. 585-595          


W  10/1           Donald Davidson: Belief and the Basis of Meaning               PL pp. 576-584


Meaning and Analyticity


M  10/6           W. V. Quine: Two Dogmas of Empiricism                             PL pp. 63-75


W  10/8           W. V. Quine: Two Dogmas of Empiricism [ContÕd]              PL pp. 63-75

                        Essay #3 due in class  


M  10/13         H. P. Grice & P. F. Strawson: In Defense of  A Dogma         PL(6) pp. 469-478


W  10/15         Hilary Putnam: ŌTwo DogmasĶ Revisited                             PL(6) pp. 479-485

                                                                                                                        [pdf. on Titanium]

M  10/20         Review


W  10/22         Mid-term Exam                                                         (Bring a large blue book)


Names: Reference and Description


M  10/27        Gottlob Frege: On Sense and Reference                                 PL pp. 217-228


W   10/29        Gottlob Frege: On Sense and Reference [ContÕd]                 PL pp. 217-228

                        Essay #4 due in class


M  11/3           Bertrand Russell: On Denoting                                               PL pp. 230-238


W  11/5           Bertrand Russell: Descriptions                                               PL pp. 239-245


M  11/10         P. F. Strawson: On Referring                                                  PL pp. 246-260


W  11/12         Keith Donnellan: Reference and Definite Descriptions          PL pp. 265-276

                        Essay #5 due in class


M  11/17         Gareth Evans: The Causal Theory of Names                         PL pp. 314-325


W  11/19         John Searle: Proper Names [pdf]                                           

                        Essay #6 due in class


M  11/24         Thanksgiving Break [No Class]


W  11/26         Thanksgiving Break [No Class]


Naming and Necessity


M  12/1           Saul Kripke: Naming and Necessity, Lecture I                       NN pp. 22-70


W  12/3           Saul Kripke: Naming and Necessity, Lecture II                     NN pp. 71-105           


M  12/8           Saul Kripke: Naming and Necessity, Lecture III                    NN pp. 106-155


W  12/10         Last Day of Class: Review                                                   Term Paper Due





      Final Exam  12/17 (Wednesday) 5:00-6:50 PM                        Bring a large blue book.