PHL313 Philosophy of Language
Professor: Craig DeLancey
Office: CC212

Current Assignments

No homeworks by email!
9 December
Final exam, 10:30 - 12:30 in CC231. It will cover mostly the material after reference: theories of meaning, performatives, metaphor, the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. You will be well-prepared if and only if you have been keeping up with the readings. The following questions may be helpful and close to our test topics. Exam questions may be worded differently but will be restricted to these topics.
  • Recognize a passage from one of our key readings and explain what is being argued and where it fits in the theorist's view.
  • Analyze a proper name or natural kind term as would Russell, Searle, Kripke, Putnam, Millikan.
  • Describe the relative merits and problems for the causal theory and descriptive theories of reference.
  • Describe the truth-based theory of meaning. What is the modal logic extenion of this theory? What problem is that modal logic extension meant to solve?
  • Describe the use-theory of meaning.
  • Contrast the use and truth theories of meaning. What's a benefit and difficulty with each?
  • What are performative utterances (and illocutionary acts)? What are some examples of performative utterances? Do you think there is some systematic order to them, or are they of boundless possible kinds?
  • Why might performative utterances pose a problem for the truth based theory of meaning? How might a defender of the truth based theory of meaning handle them?
  • What is Davidson's theory of metaphor?
  • What is Martinich's theory of metaphor?
  • What is the paradox regarding rule-following that Kripke claims to find in Wittgenstein's book Philosophical Investigations? Explain the paradox carefully, and use an example.
  • What is the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis? What two questions does Whorf aim to answer with his Hopi language examples? How does Whorf answer these questions? Mention some features of the differences between Hopi and SAE that he claims to identify.
  • What did Kempton and Kay show (or not show) with their experiments regarding the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis? Did they confirm it, or disconfirm it? What two experiments did they do? Why did they do two experiments?
  • What is Saussure's theory of value? How does he explain meaning? Does he explain reference? If so, how?
  • Rorty claims Derrida describes a way of understanding philosophy and other intellectual endeavors without reference. What does this mean? What does it mean to say that all is text, and that all our intellectual endeavors are the interpretation of text?

Tentative assignments.

Determine whether there is anything outside language.