The University of Southampton
Courses

PHIL2010 Philosophy of Language

Module Overview

Philosophy of language explores the nature of meaning, language, and communication. What is it for a word or sentence – things which in and of themselves are simply noises or marks on a page – to mean something? What is it for a word to refer to something in the world? What is it for a sentence to express someone’s thought? This module will address these questions by considering the work and ideas of some of the central figures in the philosophy of language, including Frege, Russell, Quine, Grice, and Kripke.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

Philosophy of language explores the nature of meaning, language, and communication. What is it for a word or sentence – things which in and of themselves are simply noises or marks on a page – to mean something? What is it for a word to refer to something in the world? What is it for a sentence to express someone’s thought? This module aims to introduce you to these questions and to some of the answers which have been given to them by considering the works of some of the central figures in the philosophy of language, including Frege, Russell, Quine, Grice, and Kripke.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the central doctrines of contemporary philosophy of language.
  • evaluate and compare these doctrines by reference to their capacity to account for key elements in our understanding of the meaning, language, and communication.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • undertake, with adequate supervision, independent work, including identifying and using appropriate resources.
  • work effectively to deadlines.
  • take notes from talks and written materials.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • articulate and defend your own views on the topic and to relate the issues they concern to issues in other areas of philosophy.
  • present and debate ideas, both orally and in writing, in an open minded and rigorous way.

Syllabus

In this module you can expect to explore topics such as: 1) Locke on the nature of language 2) Frege on sense and reference 3) Russell and Strawson on definite descriptions 4) Kripke on proper names 5) Davidson on truth and meaning 6) Grice on meaning and communication

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include ? Two lectures weekly ? One discussion hour weekly Learning activities include ? Attending lectures and discussion hours ? Contributing to discussion in lectures and discussion hours ? Doing research for and writing assessed essays ? Applying techniques and skills learnt to your reading and writing inside and outside the module In the lectures, you will not only be introduced to the philosophical issues central to this module and the ideas of the philosophers studied but also encouraged to think about them for yourself. Your own ideas and any difficulties you encounter can be raised and discussed in discussion hours. The writing of essays and your preparation for exams should involve you in thinking deeply about the relevant issues and texts.

TypeHours
Teaching30
Independent Study120
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

M Morris (2007). An Introduction to the Philosophy of Language (Cambridge Introductions to Philosophy). 

W Lycan (1999). Philosophy of Language: A Contemporary Introduction. 

Assessment

Summative

MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (1500 words) 50%
Examination  (90 minutes) 50%

Referral

MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (2 hours) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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