Philosophy 290-6

Fall 2011

Number Title Instructor Days/time Room
290-6 Graduate Seminar: Logic, Epistemology, and Natural Language Yalcin Tu 2-4 234 Moses

We will cover some recent work on topics at the intersection of the philosophy of language, philosophical logic, and epistemology.

We will begin by considering the role of logical notions in natural language semantics. After a review of recent work highlighting some of the nontrivial differences between natural language and classical logic, we will ask: in what sense does natural language have a logic? We’ll then turn to the question how the notion of logic appropriate to natural language relates to the notion of traditional epistemological concern. When epistemologists speak of logic as normatively constraining belief, do they have in mind the same notion of logic? If not, how are the notions related?

In the second part of the course, we will turn to the relationship between logic and belief, and to the related issue of how to model belief. First, what are the demands of logic on belief? How should these demands be understood if we represent belief as coming in degrees—that is, if we speak of credence instead? Second, what metaphysical picture is appropriate to such a representation of belief? Is credence in the head?

In the third part of the course, we will turn to some debates about knowledge that have been thought to depend partly on issues about natural language. The two main questions will be these: First, how are knowledge and credence each related to rational action? Second, is knowledge a state which is somehow relative to a question, or to an inquiry, and if so, what is the upshot of this for questions of traditional epistemological concern?

Readings will come from Harman, Hawthorne, Stanley, Sturgeon, Rothschild, Leslie, Christensen, Moss, and Yalcin, among others.