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Philosophy of Language

This seminar is offered to students of the MPhils in Linguistics and in Philosophy and taught jointly by members of each faculty: Professor Kasia Jaszczolt (Linguistics) and Dr Arif Ahmed (Philosophy). We offer eight two-hour sessions in Lent Term. Topics will include the core areas in philosophy of language pertaining to philosophical aspects of meaning such as reference (definite descriptions, proper names, demonstratives), focusing on the context-dependent aspects of referring  and debates between the so-called ‘neo-Fregeans’ and ‘neo-Russellians’; counterfactual conditionals; and discussions surrounding the scope of theory of meaning (covering such theories as minimalism, indexicalism, contextualism, relativism about meaning). We also aim to cover topics selected in view of the interests of the particular year group (for example time in language and thought, belief reports, or lying, misleading and ‘what is said’).

It is strongly recommended that students who wish to attend this seminar and do not have prior background in the subject area (semantics, pragmatics, philosophy of language) also attend the lecture course Semantics and Pragmatics (Li10) of the Linguistics Tripos throughout the Michaelmas and Lent terms. It is also expected that you will know some introductory predicate logic – this can be acquired through attending the classes ‘Logic for Linguists’ associated with paper Li10 and taught by Dr Thomas Forster and/or Part IA lectures in the Faculty of Philosophy (Formal logic, Dr Button, MT weeks 1-6, LT weeks 1-4; Sets, relations and probability, Dr Ahmed, LT weeks 5-8, Philosophical logic, Dr Incurvati, MT weeks 1-8).

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