PHIL 2043 - Philosophy of Language
North Terrace Campus - Semester 2 - 2014
General Course Information
Course Code PHIL 2043 Course Philosophy of Language Coordinating Unit Philosophy Term Semester 2 Level Undergraduate Location/s North Terrace Campus Units 3 Contact Up to 3 hours per week Prerequisites 12 units Level I Humanities/Social Sciences, including 3 units in Philosophy or Linguistics. Incompatible PHIL 2015 or PHIL 3015 Course Description This course will examine some central issues in semantics and pragmatics: the theories of meaning and communication. We will look closely at the way meanings of sentences are systematically constructed from the meanings of words. We will also look at the way context interacts with meaning, and the relationship between meaning and communication. We will consider in some detail differing views on the semantic properties of names and definite descriptions. Time permitting, we may treat some or all of these further topics: metaphor; fictional discourse; quotation; the relationship between linguistic meaning and mental content; demonstratives; and externalism about content. This course will draw on developments in philosophy and linguistics; however, no prior background in either field is presupposed.
Course Coordinator: Associate Professor Antony Eagle
The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.
Course Learning Outcomes
- Familiarity with the main positions on at least some of the following issues in the philosophy of language and formal semantics: meaning, reference, names, descriptions, semantic content, sentences and propositions, context-sensitivity, compositionality, pragmatics, and the influence of language on thought.
- Develop an understanding of several philosophical theories of meaning and reference, and related issues in pragmatics and formal semantics, including direct reference theory, descriptivism, Russell’s theory of descriptions, internalism and externalism about semantic content, temporalism and eternalism about propositions, Gricean pragmatics, the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis.
- Display critical understanding of the main philosophical views in recent and contemporary philosophy of language regarding the hypotheses mentioned in LO2.
- Acquire the ability to analyse texts from contemporary analytic philosophers and linguistic semanticists on philosophy of language and formal semantics, and extract the relevant arguments from them.
- Acquire the ability to evaluate an argument by a contemporary analytic philosopher or linguist working in the philosophy of language or formal semantics (as valid, or sound).
- Acquire the ability to identify and use relevant evidence to provide reasons for and against the adoption of various positions in the philosophical debates over language and semantics.
- Display facility in the construction of well-argued and appropriately referenced written arguments supporting a particular position in the philosophy of language or formal semantics.
University Graduate Attributes
This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:
University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s) Knowledge and understanding of the content and techniques of a chosen discipline at advanced levels that are internationally recognised. 1–3, 7 The ability to locate, analyse, evaluate and synthesise information from a wide variety of sources in a planned and timely manner. 4–6 An ability to apply effective, creative and innovative solutions, both independently and cooperatively, to current and future problems. 1–3, 6, 7 Skills of a high order in interpersonal understanding, teamwork and communication. 6, 7 An awareness of ethical, social and cultural issues within a global context and their importance in the exercise of professional skills and responsibilities. 7
Required ResourcesThere are two texts assigned for this course:
- Kripke, Saul A. (1981) Naming and Necessity. Wiley-Blackwell, 978-0-631-12801-4.
- Elbourne, Paul (2011) Meaning: A Slim Guide to Semantics. Oxford University Press, 978-0-199-69662-8.
Online LearningRequired resources will be supplemented by further articles and chapters supplied through an online content list via MyUni.
Lecture notes and lecture recordings, tutorial questions, and assignments will all be made available through MyUni.
Learning & Teaching Activities
Learning & Teaching ModesThe primary mode of teaching delivery in this course is the lecture; this provides support and scaffolding for student engagement with the assigned readings, and provides overall narrative structure to the course and assignments.
In addition to lectures, students are expected to attend one tutorial each week. Tutorials are vital for consolidating understanding of these sometimes difficult issues, and clarifying doubtful points, so it is in your interest to come prepared with a good sense of the aspects of the material which you find unclear or worthy of further discussion. The tutorial works best if students engage with the material and each other—students learn most when trying to articulate their own views on the material, and addressing the questions of other students.
To prepare for tutorials, students are required to review the material covered in previous lectures, and come prepared to discuss it. To this end, a set of exercises will be posted on MyUni each week, and each student should prepare written answers to these exercises prior to each tutorial. Students can expect to be called on to provide their answers to the tutorial group by the tutor, so please ensure you come prepared.
The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements. Hours are approximate and averaged over the semester. The actual hours spent on the course will vary from week to week, and will of course be higher in those weeks immediately prior to the submission of an assignment; please be sure to plan your time carefully.
2 x 1 hour lecture per week 2 hours 1 hour tutorial per week 1 hour 3 hours lecture preparation and revision per week (doing recommended reading, reviewing lectures and lecture notes) 3 hours 3 hours tutorial preparation per week (doing required reading, preparing answers to tutorial questions) 3 hours 3 hours assessment work (completion of assignments, reading further relevant literature and other preparation) 3 hours Total 12 hours
Learning Activities Summary
Week(s) Topic of Lectures 1 Introduction: what is the philosophy of language? What is semantics? 2–6 Word meaning; the semantics of names and descriptions; internalism and externalism about content 7–8 Sentence meaning; compositionality; propositions and sentences 9–11 Pragmatics; context-sensitivity; presupposition; conversational and conventional implicature; demonstratives and indexicals 12 Meaning and thought; the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis
A more detailed breakdown of specific lectures by topic, and assigned readings, will be provided in detailed syllabus to be posted on MyUni.
The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:
- Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
- Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
- Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
- Assessment must maintain academic standards.
Assessment Task Type Due Date Weight Learning Objectives Tutorial questions Formative Each week in tutorial. 0% 1–7 Essay 1 Summative Friday September 26th, 23:59. (First week of mid-semester break.) 45% 1–7 Essay 2 Summative Tuesday November 18th, 23:59. (Week 15, second week of examination period.) 55% 1–7
Assessment DetailEssay 1 is a 2000 word essay. Students will choose from a number of set topics based on material from the first part of the course. Essay topics will be posted in MyUni (under ‘Assignments’) by the end of week 3 (Friday August 15th).
Essay 2 is a 2500 word essay. Students will choose from a number of set topics based on material from the second part of the course. Essay topics will be posted in MyUni (under ‘Assignments’) by the end of week 9 (Friday October 10th).
SubmissionAll essays must be submitted electronically through MyUni. Please do not submit a hard copy of your essay. In this course, we will only accept electronic submission of essays through MyUni. In this course, we use the Turnitin assignment module.
Details on submission, extensions, the format of submitted work, etc., will be made available in the detailed syllabus to be posted on MyUni.
Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:
M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme) Grade Mark Description FNS Fail No Submission F 1-49 Fail P 50-64 Pass C 65-74 Credit D 75-84 Distinction HD 85-100 High Distinction CN Continuing NFE No Formal Examination RP Result Pending
Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.
Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.
Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.
The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.
SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy (http://www.adelaide.edu.au/policies/101/) course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.
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