Philosophy of Logic and Language
Below are readings and essay questions for tutorials in Philosophy of Logic and Language. Many of the readings are online, and easily obtained from the college or other libraries in Oxford, but if you are struggling to get hold of anything, email me, as I have PDF copies of nearly everything.
I have divided the reading for each topic into CORE READING and FURTHER READING, with more introductory texts marked with a star (*). Focus on the Core Reading suggestions in writing tutorial essays, and use the Further Reading suggestions as starting points for exploring topics in more depth during vacations. You will find more suggestions in the Faculty Reading List.
The default plan is to cover the TUTORIAL TOPICS, but I am happy to cover other topics in place of some of these. Options include, but are not limited to, the OTHER TOPICS. (I’ve also listed some ADVANCED TOPICS, which presuppose some familiarity with other topics, and which some students have wanted to explore. These are less likely to come up in exams.)
- Frege: Sense and Reference
- Russell: Definite Descriptions
- Kripke: Naming and Necessity
- Empty Names
- Indicative Conditionals
- Indexicals and Demonstratives
- Tarski’s Truth Definitions
- The Liar Paradox
- Truth and Meaning
- Logical Consequence
- Logical Constants
- Propositional Attitude Reports
- Quantifier Domain Restriction
- Absolute Generality
- Assertoric Content and Ingredient Sense
- Relativism about Truth
ANTHOLOGIES and TEXTBOOKS
There is no set textbook, but the following contain good, accessible discussion of many of the topics listed below. The first chapters of Kemp (2013) and McCulloch (1989) are particularly recommended for background reading in the vacation beforehand.
- Gary Kemp (2013) What is This Thing Called Philosophy of Language? (Routledge).
- William Lycan (2008) Philosophy of Language, 2nd edition (Routledge).
- Gregory McCulloch (1989) The Game of the Name (OUP).
- Michael Morris (2007) An Introduction to the Philosophy of Language (CUP).
- Mark Sainsbury (2000) Logical Forms, 2nd edition (Blackwell).
- Scott Soames (2010) Philosophy of Language (Princeton).
The following anthologies contain many of the readings listed below, and much more besides:
- Darragh Byrne and Max Kölbel, eds. (2009) Arguing about Language (Routledge). Referred to below as B&K.
- Robert Harnish, ed. (1993) Basic Topics in the Philosophy of Language (Harvester Wheatsheaf). Referred to below as Harnish.
- Peter Ludlow, ed. (1997) Readings in the Philosophy of Language (MIT Press). Referred to below as Ludlow.
- A. P. Martinich and David Sosa, eds. (2012) The Philosophy of Language (OUP, 6th edition). Referred to below as Martinich.
- Adrian Moore, ed. (1993) Meaning and Reference (OUP). Referred to below as Moore.
1. FREGE: SENSE and REFERENCE
Why did Frege distinguish between sense (Sinn) and reference (Bedeutung)? Was he right to do so?
*Mark Textor (2011) Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Frege on Sense and Reference (Routledge), esp. Ch. 4.
Gottlob Frege (1892) ‘On Sinn and Bedeutung’ in Michael Beaney, ed. (1997) The Frege Reader (Blackwell). Also in B&K, Harnish, Ludlow, Martinich, and Moore.
Nathan Salmon (1986) Frege’s Puzzle (MIT Press). Selections reprinted in B&K, Harnish and Martinich.
William Taschek (2010) ‘On Sense and Reference: a Critical Reception’ in Michael Potter and Tom Ricketts, eds. The Cambridge Companion to Frege (CUP).
Note: you won’t have time to read all of Salmon (1986). Go for one of the excerpted selections in B&K, Harnish and Martinich.
Other essential pieces by Frege include ‘Function and Concept’ and ‘Thought’. Both are in Michael Beaney, ed. (1997) The Frege Reader (Blackwell) — and ‘Thought’ is widely anthologised. Contemporary discussion of Frege has been dominated by Michael Dummett’s writings, especially his magisterial (1981); chapter 5 discusses the sense-reference distinction. Burge’s writings on Frege, collected in his (2005), are no less essential, and more sensitive to textual and historical considerations. Part II focuses on sense and cognitive value, though perhaps the best place to start is ‘Frege on Truth’, first published in 1986, in Part I. McDowell (1977) is another essential piece. Gray (2017) is an introduction to an interesting alternative to Frege’s approach, associated with Kit Fine. Michael Kremer’s contribution to the same volume as Taschek’s above is very helpful, as is Heck and May (2008).
Michael Dummett (1981) Frege: Philosophy of Language, 2nd edition (Duckworth).
Tyler Burge (2005) Truth, Thought, Reason: Essays on Frege (OUP).
John McDowell (1977) ‘On the Sense and Reference of a Proper Name’ in Mind 86(342), pp. 159–185. Reprinted in Moore.
Aidan Gray (2017) ‘Relational Approaches to Frege’s Puzzle. Philosophy Compass, 12(10), pp. 1-15.
Richard Heck, Jr. and Robert May (2008) ‘Frege’s Contribution to Philosophy of Language’ in Ernie Lepore and Barry C. Smith, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Language (OUP).
PAST PAPER QUESTIONS
Do names have sense (Sinn) as well as reference (Bedeutung)? (2016, Paper 117)
To what extent do Frege’s reasons for ascribing sense and reference to proper names generalize to ascribing sense and reference to sentences? (2015, Paper 117)
How can the claim that Barcan is Marcus be informative? (2013)
2. RUSSELL: DEFINITE DESCRIPTIONS
Are definite descriptions referring expressions, quantifier expressions, or something else?
*Mark Sainsbury (1995) ‘Philosophical Logic’ in A. C. Grayling, ed. Philosophy: A Guide Through the Subject (OUP), pp. 77-86.
Bertrand Russell (1919) Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy, Ch. XVI, ‘Descriptions’. Reprinted in B&K, Ludlow, Martinich, and Moore.
P. F. Strawson (1950) ‘On Referring’ in Mind 59(235), pp. 320-344. Reprinted in B&K, Ludlow, Martinich, and Moore.
Keith Donnellan (1966) ‘Reference and Definite Descriptions’ in Philosophical Review 75(3), pp. 281-304. Reprinted in Harnish, Ludlow and Martinich.
Kripke (1977) is a must-read, defending a broadly Russellian position. Neale (1990) is an influential exposition and defence of Kripke’s position. Strawson’s approach has seen a recent revival, especially among linguists — von Fintel (2004) is a prominent example of this trend. The topic is a key battleground in debates over the semantics/pragmatics distinction; Recanati (1993) and Stanley and Szabó (2000) are two key contributions.
Saul Kripke (1977) ‘Speaker’s Reference and Semantic Reference’ in Midwest Studies in Philosophy 2(1), pp. 255-276. Reprinted in Ludlow and Martinich.
Stephen Neale (1990) Descriptions (MIT Press), especially Ch. 3, which is reprinted in Ludlow. Available online here.
Kai von Fintel (2004) ‘Would You Believe It? The King of France is Back! (Presuppositions and Truth-Value Intuitions)’ in Marga Reimer & Anne Bezuidenhout, eds. Descriptions and Beyond (OUP).
Francois Recanati (1993) Direct Reference (Blackwell), Ch. 15.
Jason Stanley and Zoltan Szabó (2000) ‘On Quantifier Domain Restriction’ in Mind & Language 15(2-3), pp. 219–261.
PAST PAPER QUESTIONS
What, if anything, is the meaning of the word ‘the’? (2016)
Do sentences such as ‘The present King of France is bald’ cast doubt on the principle that every well-formed sentence is either true or false? (2015)
Suppose that Jane is the only person in the world who plays professional football and is from Greenland. What, if anything, is the difference between saying ‘Jane lives in the UK’ and ‘The professional football player from Greenland lives in the UK’? (2014)
3. KRIPKE: NAMING and NECESSITY
What are Kripke’s arguments against the descriptive theories of meaning and reference? Are they successful? What is the causal theory of reference? Is it defensible?
*Harold Noonan (2013) Routledge Guidebook to Kripke and Naming and Necessity (Routledge), Ch. 3. Available online here.
Saul Kripke (1980) Naming and Necessity (Blackwell), esp. Lecture II and Preface. Extracts reprinted in B&K, Harnish, Ludlow, and Martinich.
Jason Stanley (1997) ‘Names and Rigid Designation’ in B. Hale and C. Wright, eds. A Companion to Philosophy of Language (Blackwell), pp. 555-85.
Gareth Evans (1973) ‘The Causal Theory of Names’ in Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supp. Vol. 47, pp. 187-208. Reprinted in Ludlow, Martinich, and Moore.
Stanley (1997) adapts a line of reasoning pressed against Kripke in Dummett (1981). (Dummett’s objection is quite different to Stanley’s, however.) Jackson (1998) responds to Kripke’s modal argument by arguing that names are abbreviations of so-called actualised descriptions. Jeshion (2002) is a response to Kripke’s epistemological argument. Soames (2002) discusses a wide range of different responses to Kripke, and would be an excellent place to start in pursuing this topic in more depth. Burgess (2014) critically discusses Evans’ challenge to the causal theory of reference.
Michael Dummett (1981) The Interpretation of Frege’s Philosophy (Duckworth), Appendix on Kripke.
Frank Jackson (1998) ‘Reference and Description Revisited’ in Philosophical Perspectives 12, pp. 201–218.
Robin Jeshion (2002) ‘The Epistemological Argument Against Descriptivism’ in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 64(2), pp. 325-345.
Scott Soames (2002) Beyond Necessity (OUP), esp. Ch. 2. Available online here.
John P. Burgess (2014) ‘Madagascar Revisited’ in Analysis 74(2), pp. 195-201.
PAST PAPER QUESTIONS
Does ‘Socrates’ mean the same as ‘the actual F’, for some expression ‘F’? (2016)
Suppose that twins Sarah and Lisa are accidentally swapped as babies after their parents have named them both. Unbeknowst to anyone, the child originally named ‘Sarah’ grows up being called ‘Lisa’ and the child originally named ‘Lisa’ grows up being called ‘Sarah’. Must the causal theory of reference predict that ‘Sarah’ refers to the child everyone calls ‘Lisa’ and vice versa? (2015)
Do proper names and definite descriptions ever mean the same thing? (2012)
4. EMPTY NAMES
What problems do apparently empty names pose for accounts of proper names? How are they best solved?
*Sarah Sawyer (2012) ‘Empty Names’ in Delia Graff Fara and Gillian Russell, eds. The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Language (Routledge).
Saul Kripke (2013) Reference and Existence (OUP), pp. 3-78 and pp. 144-60.
Gareth Evans (1982) The Varieties of Reference (OUP), Ch. 10.
Mark Sainsbury (2005) Reference without Referents (OUP), Ch. 2 and 3.
Salmon (1998), Thomasson (2003), and Braun (2005) offer views with many affinities with Kripke’s. It is well worth working through the details of these, and the ways in which they differ from one another and Kripke. Ray (2014) is an interesting recent paper, arguing that the problems posed by (genuinely) empty names have a surprisingly straightforward solution. As he explains, the solution he puts forward is superficially similar to Sainsbury’s, but makes no use of free logic. Textor (2016) is a survey piece on approaches to empty (or “vacuous”) names in early analytic philosophy.
Nathan Salmon (1998) ‘Nonexistence’ in Noûs 32(3), pp. 277-319.
Amie Thomasson (2003) ‘Speaking of Fictional Characters’ in dialectica 57(2), pp. 205-223. Reprinted in B&K.
David Braun (2005) ‘Empty Names, Fictional Names, Mythical Names’ in Noûs 39(4), pp. 596-631.
Greg Ray (2014) ‘The Problem of Negative Existentials Inadvertently Solved in Manuel García-Carpintero and Genoveva Martí, eds. Empty Representations (OUP).
Mark Textor (2016) ‘Vacuous Names in Early Analytic Philosophy: Frege, Russell, and Moore’ in Philosophy Compass 11(6), pp. 316–326.
PAST PAPER QUESTIONS
‘The descriptive theory of names is the only one that can explain our uses of fictional names such as ‘Sherlock Holmes’, and thus must be adopted’. Discuss. (2015)
‘If names are not disguised definite descriptions, we cannot account for the meaning of names such as “Sherlock Holmes”.’ Discuss. (2014)
‘Sherlock Holmes is more famous than any living detective.’ Could this sentence be true? (2013)
How, if at all, should we distinguish between what a speaker says in uttering a sentence and the conversational implicatures of her utterance? By what principles are such implicatures derived? Is there any need for a further category of conventional implicature?
*Wayne Davis (2005/14) ‘Implicature’ in E. Zalta, ed. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/implicature/
Paul Grice (1989) Studies in the Way of Words (Harvard), Part 1, esp. Ch. 2. Key selections are reprinted in B&K, Harnish, and Martinich.
Larry Horn (2004) ‘Implicature’ Laurence Horn and Gregory Ward, eds. The Handbook of Pragmatics (Blackwell).
Deirdre Wilson and Dan Sperber (2004) ‘Relevance Theory’ in Laurence Horn and Gregory Ward, eds. The Handbook of Pragmatics (Blackwell).
Kent Bach (2006) ‘The Top 10 Misconceptions about Implicature’ in Betty Birner and Gregory Ward, eds. Drawing the Boundaries of Meaning: Neo-Gricean Studies in Pragmatics and Semantics in Honor of Laurence R. Horn (John Benjamins Publishing Company).
Neale (1992) is a sympathetic survey of Grice’s work. The first half focuses on his theory of conversation. Carston (2002) presents a relevance-theoretic case for (among other things) jettisoning the category of conventional implicature. Potts (2007) makes the case for keeping it. Lepore and Stone (2015) is a recent book, boldly arguing that “we have no use for a category of conversational implicatures, as traditionally and currently understood” (p. 6). Much of the debate lately focuses on scalar implicatures and embedded clauses. See, for example, Chierchia (2004) and Simon (2017). See also the responses to Simon (2017) from Borg, Carston, and Recanati, and Simons’ reply, in the same issue of Inquiry.
Stephen Neale (1992) ‘Paul Grice and the Philosophy of Language’ in Linguistics and Philosophy 15(5), pp. 509–559.
Robyn Carston (2002) ‘Linguistic Meaning, Communicated Meaning and Cognitive Pragmatics’ in Mind & Language, 17(1&2), pp. 127-148. Reprinted in B&K.
Gennaro Chierchia (2004) ‘Scalar Implicatures, Polarity Phenomena, and the Syntax/Pragmatics Interface’ in Adriana Belletti, ed. Structures and Beyond (OUP).
Ernie Lepore and Matthew Stone (2015) Imagination and Convention (OUP), esp. Part II.
Mandy Simons (2017) ‘Local Pragmatics in a Gricean Framework’ in Inquiry 60(5), pp. 466–492.
PAST PAPER QUESTIONS
‘We do not need a separate category of conventional implicature. All alleged examples can be analysed as presuppositions.’ Discuss. (2016)
Does Grice’s criterion of cancellability provide a robust distinction between conversational and conventional implicatures? Is there any such distinction? (2015)
How, if it all, do the words ‘and’ and ‘but’ differ in meaning? (2014)
6. INDICATIVE CONDITIONALS
Do indicative conditionals have truth conditions? If so, are they truth-functional?
*Mark Sainsbury (2001) Logical Forms, 2nd edition (Blackwell), Ch. 3.
Frank Jackson (1979) ‘On Assertion and Indicative Conditionals’ in The Philosophical Review 88(4), pp. 565–589.
Robert Stalnaker (1975) ‘Indicative Conditionals’ in Philosophia 5, pp. 269-286. Reprinted in his (1999) Context and Content (OUP), and available online here.
Dorothy Edgington (2001/14) ‘Indicative Conditionals’ in E. Zalta, ed. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/conditionals/.
Jackson (1979) and Stalnaker (1975) are both reprinted in Frank Jackson, ed. (1991) Conditionals (OUP), which contains many other classic readings on this topic.
In pursuing this topic in any depth, Kratzer (1986) is essential, arguing that “if” is not a two-place connective, but rather a device for restricting the domains of certain operators. Bennett (2001) is an even-minded book-length discussion of all the issues. Block (2008) responds on Stalnaker’s behalf to Edgington’s objections against his view. Douven (2011) and Gillies (2017) are introductory pieces — the latter discussing counterfactual as well as indicative conditionals.
Angelika Kratzer (1986) ‘Conditionals’ in Chicago Linguistics Society 22, pp. 1–15. Reprinted in her (2014) Modals and Conditionals (OUP), and available online here.
Jonathan Bennett (2003) A Philosophical Guide to Conditionals (OUP). Available online here.
Eliza Block (2008) ‘Indicative Conditionals in Context’ in Mind 117(468), pp. 783-794.
Igor Douven (2011) ‘Indicative Conditionals’ in Leon Horsten and Richard Pettigrew, eds. The Continuum Companion to Philosophical Logic (Continuum).
Anthony Gillies (2017) ‘Conditionals’ in Bob Hale, Crispin Wright, and Alexander Miller, eds. A Companion to the Philosophy of Language, 2nd edition (Blackwell).
PAST PAPER QUESTIONS
Does material implication provide a good analysis of indicative conditionals? (2016)
‘When A is true and B is false, “If A then B” is definitely false. Also, from “not-A or B” we can infer “If A then B”, which shows that whenever A is false or B is true, “If A then B” is true. This proves that the indicative conditional must be a truth- functional connective.’ Is that so? (2015)
Do conditionals have truth-conditions? (2014)
7. INDEXICALS and DEMONSTRATIVES
What is the relationship between the meaning of a demonstrative, like ‘that’, and what it refers to on an occasion of use? Is there any interesting distinction between demonstratives and indexicals, like ‘I’?
*Allyson Mount (2012) ‘Indexicals’ in Delia Graff Fara and Gillian Russell, eds. The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Language (Routledge).
David Kaplan (1989) ‘Demonstratives’ in Joseph Almog, John Perry, and Howard Wettstein, eds. Themes from Kaplan (OUP). Relevant selections are reprinted in Harnish and Martinich.
Kent Bach (1992) ‘Intentions and Demonstrations’ in Analysis 52(3), pp. 140–146.
Stefano Predelli (1998) ‘“I Am Not Here Right Now”’ in Analysis 58(2), pp. 107–115.
Perry (1977) argues that indexicals present a special problem for Frege’s doctrine of sense. Evans (1981) replies. Both are reprinted in Palle Yourgrau, ed. (1990) Demonstratives (OUP). Lewis (1980) argues that, contra Kaplan, the content of a sentence cannot be identified with what it is used to say. Braun (1995) criticises Kaplan’s account of character. Cohen and Michaelson (2013) is an accessible survey of recent debate over the answer-machine paradox.
John Perry (1977) ‘Frege on Demonstratives’ in The Philosophical Review 86(4), 474-497.
David Lewis (1980) ‘Index, Context, and Content’ in his (1998) Papers in Philosophical Logic (CUP).
Gareth Evans (1981) ‘Understanding Demonstratives’ in his (1985) Collected Papers (OUP).
David Braun (1995) ‘What is Character?’ in Journal of Philosophical Logic 24(3), pp. 227–240.
Jonathan Cohen and Eliot Michaelson (2013) ‘Indexicality and the Answering Machine Paradox’ in Philosophy Compass 8(6), pp. 580–592.
PAST PAPER QUESTIONS
Is there any interesting distinction between indexicals and demonstratives? (2014)
You phone your friend, only to get the voicemail: ‘I am not here now’. Could this message be true? (2013)
Do speaker intentions fix the semantic value of demonstrative expressions? (2012)
What problems, if any, does context-sensitivity pose for the idea that the truth-conditions of sentences are determined by the meanings of their parts and the ways that they are put together? What implications does your answer have for the distinction between semantics and pragmatics?
*Emma Borg (2009) ‘Meaning and Context: A Survey of a Contemporary Debate’ in Daniel Whiting, ed. The Later Wittgenstein on Language (Palgrave Macmillan).
Charles Travis (1997) ‘Pragmatics’ in B. Hale and C. Wright, eds. A Companion to Philosophy of Language (Blackwell), pp. 89-107.
Zoltán Gendler Szabó (2001) ‘Adjectives in Context’ in Istvan Kenesei and Robert Harnish, eds. Perspectives on Semantics, Pragmatics, and Discourse: a Festschrift for Ferenc Kiefer (John Benjamins Publishing Company). Reprinted in B&K.
Herman Cappelen and Ernie Lepore (2003) ‘Context Shifting Arguments’ in Philosophical Perspectives 17, pp. 25–50.
Sainsbury (2001) is an underappreciated gem, demonstrating the range of options available to formal semanticists aiming to accommodate Travis’s examples. The remaining papers all concede that truth-conditions are radically context-sensitive, though all except one argue that this can be accommodated within the framework of truth-conditional semantics that we’ve been working with over the past few weeks. The exception is Carston (2008), which offers a Relevance Theoretic perspective.
Timothy Williamson (1999) ‘Indefinite Extensibility’ in Johannes Brandl and Peter Sullivan, eds. New Essays on the Philosophy of Michael Dummett (Rodopi).
Mark Sainsbury (2001) ‘Two Ways to Smoke a Cigarette’ in Ratio (New Series) 14(4), pp. 386-406. Reprinted in his (2002) Departing from Frege (Routledge).
John Macfarlane (2007) ‘Semantic Minimalism and Nonindexical Contextualism’ in Gerhard Preyer and Georg Peter, eds. Context-Sensitivity and Semantic Minimalism (OUP).
Robyn Carston (2008) ‘Linguistic Communication and the Semantics/Pragmatics Distinction’ in Synthese 165(3), pp. 321–345.
Daniel Rothschild and Gabriel Segal (2009) ‘Indexical Predicates’ in Mind & Language 24(4), pp. 467-493.
PAST PAPER QUESTIONS
Is the word ‘penguin’ context-sensitive? (2016)
What role does context sensitivity play in accounting for the meanings of English words? (2015)
What is the difference between semantics and pragmatics? (2012)
What is the sorites paradox? Does it show that we must abandon classical logic?
*Mark Sainsbury (2009) Paradoxes, 3rd edition (CUP), Ch. 3.
Tim Williamson (1994) Vagueness (Routledge), Ch. 7. Reprinted in B&K, and available online here.
Dorothy Edgington (1996) ‘Vagueness By Degrees’ in Rosanna Keefe and Peter Smith, eds. Vagueness: A Reader (MIT Press).
Rosanna Keefe (2008) ‘Vagueness: Supervaluationism’ in Philosophy Compass 3(2), pp. 315-324.
Evans (1978) is a short (1 page!) article arguing against the possibility of vague objects. Sainsbury (1996) is an influential discussion of how vagueness should be characterised. Graff-Fara (2000) defends a contextualist view. Kearns and Magidor (2008) criticize Williamson’s epistemicism. Eklund (2011) is a useful survey of recent debates.
Gareth Evans (1978) ‘Can There Be Vague Objects?’ in Analysis 38(4), p. 208.
Mark Sainsbury (1996) ‘Concepts Without Boundaries’ in Rosanna Keefe and Peter Smith, eds. (1996) Vagueness: A Reader (MIT Press).
Delia Graff-Fara (2000) ‘Shifting Sands: An Interest-Relative Theory of Vagueness’ in Philosophical Topics, 28(1), pp. 45-81. Reprinted in B&K and Martinich.
Stephen Kearns and Ofra Magidor (2008) ‘Epistemicism About Vagueness and Meta-Linguistic Safety’ in Philosophical Perspectives 22(1), pp. 277-304.
Matti Eklund (2011) ‘Recent Work on Vagueness’ in Analysis 71(2), pp. 352-363.
PAST PAPER QUESTIONS
‘Even if Tim is a borderline case of thinness, the sentence “Tim is thin or Tim is not thin” is manifestly true.’ Discuss. (2016)
Why can’t we know what height exactly is such that anyone below that height counts as not tall and anyone above it counts as tall? (2015)
Critically discuss two (or more) solutions to the sorites paradox. (2014)
TARSKI’S TRUTH DEFINITIONS
Does Tarski define the concept of truth? If not, what does he achieve with his definitions?
*Alexis Burgess and John P. Burgess (2011) Truth (Princeton), Ch. 2.
Alfred Tarski (1949) ‘The Semantic Conception of Truth’ in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 4(3), pp. 341-76.
John Etchemendy (1988) ‘Tarski on Truth and Logical Consequence’ in Journal of Symbolic Logic 53(1), pp. 53-79, §1 only.
Scott Soames (1999) Understanding Truth (OUP), Ch. 3 and 4.
Wolfgang Künne (2004) Conceptions of Truth (OUP), §4.1.
Kirkham (1992) is an accessible overview of various issues related to this week’s topic. Field (1972) influentially argues that Tarski’s theory aims (but fails) to provide a definition of truth that would acceptable to physicalists. McDowell (1978) is a response. Sher (1999) discusses both Field’s and other challenges to Tarski. Heck (1997) discusses the connection between Tarskian definitions of truth taken as, roughly, theories specifying the meanings of the sentences of the object-language and as theories of what ‘true’ means in the metalanguage.
Hartry Field (1972) ‘Tarski’s Theory of Truth’ in Journal of Philosophy, 69(13), pp. 347-375.
John McDowell (1978) ‘Physicalism and Primitive Denotation: Field on Tarski’ in Erkenntnis 13(1), pp. 131-152.
Richard Heck, Jr. (1997) ‘Tarski, Truth, and Semantics’ The Philosophical Review 106(4), 533-554.
Richard Kirkham (1992) Theories of Truth (MIT Press), Ch. 5 and 6.
Gila Sher (1999) ‘What is Tarski’s Theory of Truth?’ in Topoi 18(2), pp. 149-166.
PAST PAPER QUESTIONS
Does Tarski’s hierarchy of languages help us consistently assign a truth value to the English sentence ‘This sentence is not true’? (2015)
Is Tarski’s theory of truth a correspondence theory of truth? (2005)
THE LIAR PARADOX
What is the best response to the Liar Paradox? Does it require abandoning classical logic?
*JC Beall, Michael Glanzberg, and David Ripley (2011/16) ‘Liar Paradox’ in E. Zalta, ed. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/liar-paradox/
Charles Parsons (1974) ‘The Liar Paradox’ in Journal of Philosophical Logic 3(4), pp. 381-412.
Saul Kripke (1975) ‘Outline of a Theory of Truth’ in The Journal of Philosophy 72(19), pp. 690-716.
Graham Priest and Francesco Berto (1998/2013) ‘Dialetheism’ in E. Zalta, ed. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/dialetheism/
Sainsbury (2009) is a great introduction to the issues. Soames (1999) is a sympathetic account of Kripke’s approach. Burge (1979) offers a contextualist solution which is interestingly different to that of Parsons (1974). Parsons (1990) is critical of dialetheism. Eklund (2002) defends the (Tarskian) idea that natural languages are inconsistent.
Tyler Burge (1979) ‘Semantical Paradox’ in Journal of Philosophy 76(4), pp. 169-198.
Matti Eklund (2002) ‘Inconsistent Languages’ in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 64(2), 251-275.
Terence Parsons (1990) ‘True Contradictions’ in Canadian Journal of Philosophy 20(3), pp. 335-53.
Mark Sainsbury (2009) Paradoxes, 3rd edition (CUP), Ch. 6 and 7.
Scott Soames (1999) Understanding Truth (OUP), Ch. 6.
PAST PAPER QUESTIONS
What are the prospects for a contextualist solution to the Liar Paradox? (2016)
Is the Liar Paradox ultimately a problem concerning self-reference? (2014)
Does the Liar Paradox force us to give up classical logic? (2011)
TRUTH and MEANING
What problem does Foster raise for Davidson’s proposal that a Tarski-style theory of truth can serve as a theory of meaning? How does Foster’s problem differ from the so-called extensionality problem? Can either problem be solved?
*Mark Platts (1997) Ways of Meaning 2nd ed. (MIT Press), Ch. I & II.
Donald Davidson (1965) ‘Truth and Meaning’ in Synthese 17(1), pp. 304–323. Reprinted in his (2001) Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation 2nd ed. (OUP), Ludlow, and Martinich.
John Foster (1976) ‘Meaning and Truth Theory’ in Gareth Evans and John McDowell, eds. Truth and Meaning: Essays in Semantics (OUP), Ch. 1.
David Wiggins (1997/2017) ‘Meaning and truth conditions: from Frege’s grand design to Davidson’s’ in Bob Hale and Crispin Wright, eds. A Companion to the Philosophy of Language, 2nd ed. (Blackwell).
Gareth Evans and John McDowell, eds. Truth and Meaning: Essays in Semantics (OUP) also contains a reply to Foster from Davidson and an excellent introduction from the editors.
Davidson (1973) is a classic, and essential reading. Segal (1999) gives a particularly clear account of Davidson’s proposal, Foster’s problem, and the difference between it and the extensionality problem, before offering his own solution. I strongly recommended it as a model of how to concisely introduce an issue. Higginbotham (1992) offers another solution, which is criticized in Soames (2008). Lepore and Ludwig (2010) respond to Soames.
Donald Davidson (1973) ‘Radical Interpretation’ in Dialectica 27(3/4), pp. 313–328. Also in his (2001) Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation 2nd ed. (OUP).
Gabriel Segal (1999) ‘How a Truth Theory can do Duty as a Theory of Meaning’ in Urszula Zeglen, ed. Donald Davidson: Truth, Meaning and Knowledge (Routledge).
James Higginbotham (1992) ‘Truth and Understanding’ in Philosophical Studies 65(1/2), pp. 3–16.
Scott Soames (2008) ‘Truth and Meaning: In Perspective’ in Midwest Studies in Philosophy 32, pp. 1–19.
Ernie Lepore and Kirk Ludwig (2010) ‘Truth and Meaning Redux’ in Philosophical Studies 154(2), pp. 251–77.
PAST PAPER QUESTIONS
Under what circumstances, if any, is a theory of truth an adequate theory of meaning? (2014)
Explain and assess the thesis that meaning is given by truth-conditions. (2013)
What problems are posed by non-indicative moods for a truth-conditions theory of meaning? Are they soluble? (2012)
Do metaphors have propositional content? If so, what is it, and is it part of what a speaker says or what she implicates in using a metaphor?
*Marga Reimer and Elisabeth Camp (2008) ‘Metaphor’ in Ernie Lepore & Barry C. Smith, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Language (OUP).
Donald Davidson (1978) ‘What Metaphors Mean’ in Critical Inquiry 5(1), pp. 31–47. Reprinted in his (2001) Inquiries into Truth and Interpretation 2nd ed. (OUP) and B&K.
Max Black (1979) ‘How Metaphors Work: A Reply to Davidson’ in Critical Inquiry 6(1), pp. 31–47. Reprinted in B&K.
John Searle (1979) ‘Metaphor’ in his Expression and Meaning (CUP).
Moran (1997) presents various influential criticisms of Davidson. Camp (2006) defends the sort of Gricean position offered by Searle. Wearing (2006) defends a relevance-theoretic position. Fogelin (2011) defends the figurative simile view, on which metaphors are abbreviations of similes, taken figuratively. Lycan (2008) provides introductory discussion of this, as well as Davidson and Searle.
Richard Moran (1997) ‘Metaphor’ in Bob Hale and Crispin Wright, eds. A Companion to the Philosophy of Language (Blackwell).
Elisabeth Camp (2006) ‘Contextualism, Metaphor, and What is Said’ in Mind & Language 21(3), pp. 280–309.
Catherine Wearing (2006) ‘Metaphor and What is Said’ in Mind & Language 21(3), pp. 310–332.
William Lycan (2008) Philosophy of Language: A Contemporary Introduction (Routledge, 2nd edition), Ch. 14.
Robert Fogelin (2011) Figuratively Speaking, revised edition (OUP).
PAST PAPER QUESTIONS
One can sometimes acceptably respond to a metaphorical utterance of ‘John is a pig!’ by saying ‘That is not true!’ What implications does this have for our theory of metaphor? (2016)
Do metaphorical utterances have propositional contents? (2015)
Can metaphorical sentences and non-metaphorical ones ever mean the same thing? (2014)
QUANTIFIER DOMAIN RESTRICTION
How is quantifier domain restriction effected?
*Marga Reimer and Anne Bezuidenhout, eds. (2004) Descriptions and Beyond (OUP), Introduction to Part I.
Jason Stanley and Zoltan Szabó (2000) ‘On Quantifier Domain Restriction’ in Mind & Language 15(2-3), pp. 219–261.
Kent Bach (2000) ‘Quantification, Qualification and Context: a reply to Stanley and Szabo’ in Mind & Language 15(2-3), pp. 262-83.
Stephen Neale (2004) ‘This, That, and the Other’ in Marga Reimer and Anne Bezuidenhout, eds. (2004) Descriptions and Beyond (OUP).
The other papers in Part I of Reimer and Bezuidenhout (2004) offer different perspectives: Lepore defends a minimalist approach, Recanati a situation theoretic one. For more on situation theory, as well as its application to this issue, see Kratzer (2007/17). Stanley (2002) is in some ways a superior presentation of the Stanley and Szabó approach. More recent contributions to the debate include Arregui (2008) and Elbourne (2008). For a helpful overview of the recent debate, see von Fintel (2014) — the slides of a presentation given at a workshop at Rutgers.
Jason Stanley (2002) ‘Nominal Restriction’ in Gerhard Preyer and Georg Peter, eds. Logical Form and Language (OUP).
Angelika Kratzer (2007/17) ‘Situations in Natural Language Semantics’ in E. Zalta, ed. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/situations-semantics/
Ana Arregui (2008) ‘Some Remarks on Domain Widening’ in Natasha Abner and Jason Bishop, eds. Proceedings of the 27th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics (Cascadilla Proceedings Project).
Paul Elbourne (2008) ‘The Argument from Binding’ in Philosophical Perspectives 22(1), pp. 89–110.
Kai von Fintel (2014) ‘Quantifier Domain Restriction’, Presentation at Rutgers, April 4, 2014.
Can we make sense of absolutely unrestricted quantification?
*Salvatore Florio (2014) ‘Unrestricted Quantification’ Philosophy Compass, 9(7), 441–454.
Michael Dummett (1981) Frege: Philosophy of Language, 2nd ed. (Duckworth), Ch. 15.
Richard Cartwright (1994) ‘Speaking of Everything’ in Noûs 28(1), pp. 1-20.
Timothy Williamson (2003) ‘Everything’ in Philosophical Perspectives 17, pp. 415-465.
Rayo and Uzquiano (2006) contains various useful papers. Part II of Zimmerman and Bennett (2012), containing papers by Joshua Spencer and Agustín Rayo, is devoted to the topic. Studd (2015) responds to Williamson’s claim that relativists are unable to state their own preferred semantics for quantifiers. Uzquiano (2015) defends a linguistic account of indefinite extensibility. Russell (2016) is a fun paper arguing for indefinite extensibility on the basis of puzzles about mereology.
Agustín Rayo and Gabriel Uzquiano, eds. (2006) Absolute Generality (OUP).
Dean Zimmerman and Karen Bennett, eds. (2012) Oxford Studies in Metaphysics Vol. 7 (OUP).
James Studd (2015) ‘Absolute Generality and Semantic Pessimism’ in Alessandro Torza, ed. Quantifiers, Quantifiers, and Quantifiers (Springer).
Gabriel Uzquiano (2015) ‘Varieties of Indefinite Extensibility’ in Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic, pp. 147-166.
Jeffrey Sanford Russell (2016) ‘Indefinite Divisibility’ in Inquiry 59(3), pp. 239-263.
ASSERTORIC CONTENT AND INGREDIENT SENSE
What is the relationship between the ingredient sense of a sentence, i.e. the contribution that it makes to the truth-conditions of sentences in which it occurs, and its assertoric content, i.e. what it can be used on its own to say or assert?
There isn’t a great deal of introductory stuff on this topic, but there is a short discussion in §3.2 of:
*Matthew McGrath and David Frank (2005/18) ‘Propositions’ in E. Zalta, ed. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/propositions/
David Lewis (1980) ‘Index, Context and Content’ in his Papers in Philosophical Logic (CUP).
Jeff King (2003) ‘Tense, Modality, and Semantic Values’ in Philosophical Perspectives 17(1), pp. 195–246.
Brian Rabern (2012) ‘Against the Identification of Assertoric Content with Ingredient Sense’ in Synthese 189(1), pp. 75–96.
Dummett first discussed the relationship between ingredient sense and assertoric content explicitly in his (1973) book, Frege: Philosophy of Language, though the roots go back to his (1959) article, ‘Truth’. His (2004) is a concise, and fairly accessible discussion. Glanzberg (2011) is a nice, short piece on the issues surrounding the semantics of tense. Ninan (2012) is a response to King. Mackay (2013) argues for “monsters”, or context-shifting operators. Stojnic (2017) is a nice recent paper on the topic, critically discussing an appeal Jason Stanley makes to the assertoric content-ingredient sense distinction.
Michael Dummett (2004) Truth and the Past (Columbia), Ch. 2.
Michael Glanzberg (2011) ‘More on Operators and Tense’ in Analysis 71(1), pp. 112–123.
Dilip Ninan (2012) ‘Propositions, Semantic Values, and Rigidity’ in Philosophical Studies 158(3), pp. 401–413.
John Mackay (2013) ‘Quantifying over Possibilities’ in The Philosophical Review 122(4), pp. 577–617.
Una Stojnic (2017) ‘On the Connection between Semantic Content and the Objects of Assertion’ in Philosophical Topics 45(2), pp. 163-179.
RELATIVISM ABOUT TRUTH
What is relativism about truth? Are there any good arguments for or against it?
*Patrick Shireff and Brian Weatherson ‘Relativism’ in Bob Hale and Crispin Wright, eds. Blackwell Companion to Philosophy of Language, Vol. II (Blackwell, 2nd edition).
Gareth Evans (1985) ‘Does Tense Logic Rest on a Mistake?’ in his Collected Papers (OUP).
John Macfarlane (2003) ‘Future Contingents and Relative Truth’ in The Philosophical Quarterly 53(212), pp. 321–336.
Tamina Stephenson (2007) ‘Judge Dependence, Epistemic Modals, and Predicates of Personal Taste’ in Linguistics and Philosophy 30(4), pp. 487–525.
Kai von Fintel and Anthony Gillies (2008) ‘CIA Leaks’ in The Philosophical Review 117(1), pp. 77-98.
Jonny McIntosh (2014) ‘Evans’s Challenge to Temporalism’ in UCL Working Papers in Linguistics 26, pp. 89–99.
John Macfarlane (2014) Assessment Sensitivity (OUP), Ch. 3.
Meghan Sullivan (2014) ‘Change We Can Believe In (and Assert)’ in Noûs 48(3), pp. 474–495.
Diana Raffman (2016) ‘Relativism, Retraction, and Evidence’ in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 92(1), pp. 171–178.