Undergraduate Module Descriptor

PHL2018: Philosophy of Language

This module descriptor refers to the 2019/0 academic year.

Module Content

Syllabus Plan

Week 1: Introduction to the Module; the various senses of “meaning”; the nature of analytic

philosophy; the “linguistic turn” and its motivations.

Week 2: Gottlob Frege on Sense and Reference

Reading: Frege, “On Sense and Nominatum”; Frege, “The Thought: A Logical Inquiry”

Week 3: Bertrand Russell and the Theory of Definite Descriptions

Reading: Russell, “Descriptions”; John Searle, “Proper Names and Intentionality”

Week 4: Causal Theories of Reference; Kripke and Putnam

Reading: Saul Kripke, “Naming and Necessity” (extracts); Gareth Evans, “The Causal Theory

of Names”; Hilary Putnam, Reason, Truth and History, ch.1

Week 5: Verificationism and Meaning; Logical Positivism and Dummett

Reading: C.G. Hempel, “Empiricist Criteria of Cognitive Significance”; A.J. Ayer, Language,

Truth, and Logic (Penguin), chs.1&3

Week 6: Scepticism about Meaning 1; Quine on Analyticity and Meaning Holism

Reading: W.V.O. Quine, “Two Dogmas of Empiricism”; Quine, “Translation and Meaning”

Week 7: Scepticism about Meaning 2; “Kripkenstein” on Rule-following

Reading: Kripke, “On Rules and Private Language”; Ludwig Wittgensein, Philosophical

Investigations §§ 138-242; Marie McGinn, Wittgenstein and the Philosophical


Week 8: Meaning as Intention 1; Speech Acts

Reading: J.L. Austin, “Performative Utterances”; Searle, “A Taxonomy of Illocutionary Acts”

Week 9: Meaning as Intention 2; Gricean Implicature

Reading: Paul Grice, “Logic and Conversation”

Week 10: Meaning and Truth; Davidson and Tarski

Reading: Donald Davidson, “Truth and Meaning”; Davidson, “Belief and the Basis of


Week 11: Meaning and Metaphor

Reading: Davidson, “What Metaphors Mean”; Roger White, The Structure of Metaphor,


Learning and Teaching

This table provides an overview of how your hours of study for this module are allocated:

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

...and this table provides a more detailed breakdown of the hours allocated to various study activities:

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activity22Eleven two-hour lecture/discussions.
Guided Independent Study40Assigned readings associated with
Guided Independent Study44Preparation of Assigned Essay
Guided Independent Study44Private Study for Exam

Online Resources

This module has online resources available via ELE (the Exeter Learning Environment).


Lecture slides and any readings not found in the Martinich volume will be available on the module’s ELE page.