Philosophy 290-5

Fall 2010

Number Title Instructor Days/time Room
290-5 Graduate Seminar: Philosophy of language: Perspective in Language Yalcin Th 2-4 234 Moses Hall

The seminar will focus on questions which arise in connection with language that exhibits, or appears to exhibit, some relativity to a perspective. We will conduct three case studies, each on a different fragment of language: (1) the language of spatio-temporal position and orientation; (2) the language of probability; and (3) the language of evaluation (probably, aesthetic evaluation). We will use these fragments as windows into some basic issues in the philosophy of language, among them: the role of charity and of eligibility in interpretation, the scope and limits of truth-conditional semantics, the import of the demand that a theory of meaning be compositional, and the epistemological role of intuition in linguistics. We will be especially interested in developing a view about how semantic inquiry and metaphysical inquiry are related. Our case studies will drive us into areas well outside of the usual terrain of the philosophy of language, and the readings will be correspondingly diverse. During our first case study, we will look at aspects of the metaphysics of space and time, and at work on the perception of orientation; during the second, we will look into the metaphysics of probability, and get into issues about the semantics and logic of conditionals; and during the third, several reading will come from meta-ethics and aesthetics. Some people we may read: Chomsky, Egan, Field, Fillmore, Fodor, Gibbard, Gillies, Harman, Hume (on taste), Kant (on gloves), Kolodny, Kripke, Lee, Lewis, MacFarlane, Rothschild, Schroeder, Searle, Skow, Stalnaker, and Yalcin. Graduate students in linguistics are most welcome.