The Dennes Room

Philosophy 134

Fall 2011

Number Title Instructor Days/time Room
134 Form & Meaning Yalcin MWF 12-1 220 Wheeler

How is the meaning of a whole sentence determined by the meanings of its parts, and by its structure? This question is addressed in empirical semantic theories for natural language. The character and content of such theories has been a central concern both of the philosophy of language and of recent linguistics, and it is the central focus of this course. Students will become familiar with truth-conditional semantics for natural language in the model-theoretic tradition stemming from the classic work of Frege and Tarski and developed by Montague, Davidson, Lewis, and others. We will investigate the proper treatment of predicates, modifiers, quantifiers, modals, conditionals, names, descriptions, and attitudes within this kind of approach to linguistic meaning. Along this the way we will: develop a sense of what it means for a semantic theory to be compositional; ask how debates within a compositional semantic theory interact with foundational questions in the philosophy of language; and develop a conception of how natural language semantics relates to syntax, to pragmatics, and to psychological theories of human cognition.

Philosophy 12A (introduction to logic) is a prerequisite to this course.