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Regular version of the site
Master 2018/2019

Problems of the Contemporary Philosophy of Language

Category 'Best Course for Broadening Horizons and Diversity of Knowledge and Skills'
Category 'Best Course for New Knowledge and Skills'
Type: Elective course (Philosophical Anthropology)
Area of studies: Philosophy
Delivered by: School of Philosophy
When: 1 year, 1, 2 module
Mode of studies: Full time
Instructors: Vitaliy Dolgorukov
Master’s programme: Philosophical Antropology
Language: English
ECTS credits: 3

Course Syllabus


The general overview of the basic issues of the contemporary philosophy of language. Contemporary Philosophy of Language started with seminal work of G. Frege and developed through the work of G.E. Moore, B. Russell and L. Wittgenstein to the philosophy of ordinary language of G. Ryle and G.L. Austin. Later the main focus of Philosophy of Language was shifted by the work W.V.O. Quine to the Theory of Reference which constitutes the main problem of Contemporary Philosophy of Language.
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

  • The aim of the course is to provide students with a general overview of the basic issues of the contemporary philosophy of language.
Expected Learning Outcomes

Expected Learning Outcomes

  • Generates concepts and theoretical models, to test new methods and tools for professional activities
  • Analyses and improve familiar research methods and professional skills
  • Learns new research methods and approaches on his/her own, to evolve professionally
  • Carries out research and other professional activities in an international environment
Course Contents

Course Contents

  • 1. New (contemporary) Logic vs. Traditional Logic.
    Logic as metaphysics and theory of knowledge in XIX century. Idealistic logic of Hegel and Bradley. Logic of Induction of J.S. Mill. The Frege programme and Frege Principles. Logic and Philosophy of language.
  • Philosophy of Syntax
    Chomsky's argument against behavourist theory. Universal grammar. Deep structure and surface structure. The «linguistic wars»
  • Speech Acts
    Austin's Speech Act Theory. Theories of Performativity. Searle's classification of speech Acts. locutionary act. Constitutive and regulative rules. Illocutionary act. Perlocutionary act. llocutionary force. Speech acts and conventions. Direct and indirect speech acts. Illocutionary logic.
  • Intensional Semantics
    Intension and extension. Propositional Attitudes. Intensional types. Possible worlds semantics. De re and de dicto modalities. Tense semantics. Dynamic Montague Grammar. Conditionals in formal semantics.
  • Basic Formal Semantics
    The distinction between semantics and pragmatics. The Principle of Compositionality. Model- theoretic Semantics. Montague grammar. «English as a Formal Language». Lambda abstraction. Semantic types. Anaphora and «Donkey sentence»
  • Basic Ideas of Syntax
    Chomskyan revolution. Main ideas of generative grammar. The principles of constituent structure. Phrase Structure and X-bar theory.
  • 2. Philosophy of Language and Philosophy of Linguistics
    «The Linguistic Turn». What is the philosophy of language? What is the philosophy of linguistics? The definitions of syntax, semantics and pragmatics. The problem of meaning. The meaning as use. Meaning and reference. Internalism and externalism. The problem of reference.
  • Events in Semantics
    Davidsonian and neo-davidsonian semantics. Events and situations. Events and moments. Ontology of events. Types of events. Static and Dynamic Events. Mental and Physical Events. Negative Events. Davidsonian semantics and compositionality.
  • Formal and Natural Languages
    Philosophy of logical analysis and ordinary language philosophy. The idea of «Logically Perfect Language». Proper Names and Definite descriptions. The Correspondence theory. The Davidsonian Approach to Truth. Language and Conventions.
  • Implicatures
    The saying/implicating distinction. Implicatures vs. implications. Implicatures and presuppositions. «Grice‟s Razor». Types of implicatures. The properties of conversational Implicatures (cancellability, nondetachability, calculability, externality). Quantity and scalar implicatures. Defaultism and contextualism.
  • Logic of Conversation
    The Principle of Cooperation. Non-Cooperative Dialogues. Conversational Maxims. The Q- and the R-Principle. Horn's Division of Pragmatic Labor. Levinson's heuristics. Relevance Theory. The ostensive stimulus. The Presumption of Optimal Relevance. Politeness theory. Positive and negative face. Face-threatening acts.
  • The Principle of Compositionality
    The Frege Principle. Compositionality and Contextualism. Strong Compositionality. Weak Compositionality. Interactive Compositionality. Direct Compositionality. Semantics- Pragmatics Interface. Meaning and Truth-Conditions. Tarsky’s Semantics. Compositionality in formal semantics.
  • Presuppositions
    Entailment and presupposition. Strawsonian presupposition. Presupposition and Truth-Value Gaps. Projection of presuppositions. Presupposition Triggers. Defeating Presuppositions Metalinguistic Negation.
Assessment Elements

Assessment Elements

  • non-blocking essay
  • non-blocking Oral presentation of an essay
  • non-blocking Exam
  • non-blocking seminar activity, participation in discussions
Interim Assessment

Interim Assessment

  • Interim assessment (2 module)
    0.25 * essay + 0.5 * Exam + 0.25 * seminar activity, participation in discussions


Recommended Core Bibliography

  • Ball, B. (n.d.). Speech Acts: Natural or Normative Kinds? The Case of Assertion. Mind and Language, 29(3), 336–350. https://doi.org/10.1111/mila.12054
  • Gottlob Frege. (n.d.). ON SENSE AND REFERENCE (excerpt) 1. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.506F900A
  • Russell, B. (2005). II.——On Denoting. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.8112BA2A
  • STRAWSON, P. F. (1950). Iii.——On Referring. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.F16FF4EB

Recommended Additional Bibliography

  • Chris Barker, & Chung-chieh Shan. (2008). Donkey anaphora is in-scope binding. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.63009050
  • Giacomo Bonanno, & Pierpaolo Battigalli. (2003). Recent Results On Belief, Knowledge And The Epistemic Foundations Of Game Theory. Working Papers. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsrep&AN=edsrep.p.cda.wpaper.266
  • Lawrence S. Moss, & Hans-jörg Tiede. (n.d.). 19 Applications of Modal Logic in Linguistics. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.88CFDF1B
  • Marcus Kracht, Fakultät Lili, & Universität Bielefeld. (2008). Compositionality in Montague Grammar. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsbas&AN=edsbas.B931087F