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. The first two weeks look at classic works by Frege and Russell, laying the foundations for the next four weeks, which look at influential work from the 1970s by Kripke and Putnam on meaning and reference, Kaplan on indexicals, and Grice on implicatures. Equipped with some important tools and theoretical background, you can then go on to explore further topics of your choosing in the last two weeks of term. Options here include, but are not limited to, the OTHER TOPICS. I’ve also listed some SPECIAL TOPICS, which some students have wanted to explore in the past. These are unlikely to come up in exams, and may presuppose familiarity with other topics, but will help to deepen your understanding.

I’ve had advice from various friends and colleagues in putting together this reading list and its previous incarnations. I’m particularly grateful to Nick Tasker and my students. If you’re teaching a similar course, and want to make use of this reading list at all, as occasional emails suggest people sometimes do, please feel free. I’d love to hear how it goes!


  1. Sense and Reference
  2. Definite Descriptions
  3. Naming and Necessity
  4. Semantic Externalism
  5. Indexicals and Demonstratives
  6. Conversational Implicatures
  7. TBA
  8. TBA




The following anthologies are particularly useful, and contain many of the key readings. I refer to them below as Harnish, Ludlow, and M&S respectively.

Robert M. Harnish, ed. (1994) Basic Topics in the Philosophy of Language (Harvester Wheatsheaf).

Peter Ludlow, ed. (1997) Readings in the Philosophy of Language (MIT Press).

A. P. Martinich and David Sosa, eds. (2012) The Philosophy of Language (OUP, 6th edition).

There is no set textbook, but it will be useful to do some introductory reading in the vacation beforehand. The following are all recommended.

Gary Kemp (2013) What is This Thing Called Philosophy of Language? (Routledge).

William Lycan (2019) Philosophy of Language, 3rd edition (Routledge).

Michael Morris (2007) An Introduction to the Philosophy of Language (CUP).

Zoltan Gendler Szabó and Richmond H. Thomason (2019) Philosophy of Language (CUP).

These textbooks focus on the philosophy of language. If you are interested in looking at topics in the philosophy of logic, try the following.

Mark Sainsbury (2001) Logical Forms, 2nd edition (Blackwell).





Why did Frege distinguish between sense and reference? Was he right to do so? If so, what is the sense of a proper name, such as ‘Hesperus’? If not, how is the informativeness of an identity statement, such as ‘Hesperus is Phosphorus’, to be explained?


*Mark Textor (2011) Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Frege on Sense and Reference (Routledge), Ch. 4.

Gottlob Frege (1892) 'On Sinn and Bedeutung' in Michael Beaney, ed. (1997) The Frege Reader (Blackwell), esp. pp. 151-8. Reprinted in Harnish, Ludlow and M&S.

Nathan Salmon (1986) Frege's Puzzle (MIT Press), esp. Ch. 1, 3, and 4. Ch. 1 and 3 are reprinted in M&S, and Ch. 1 and 4 are reprinted alongside other extracts in Harnish.

William Taschek (2010) 'On Sense and Reference: a Critical Reception' in Michael Potter and Tom Ricketts, eds. The Cambridge Companion to Frege (CUP).


Other relevant writings by Frege include his (1918) paper, which is well worth reading in connection with INDEXICALS and DEMONSTRATIVES as well. Contemporary scholarship on Frege is dominated by Michael Dummett’s work, 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 probably more sensitive to textual and historical considerations. Part II focuses on sense and cognitive value, though the best place to start is ‘Frege on Truth’, first published in 1986, in Part I. Michael Kremer’s contribution to the same volume as Taschek’s, above, is also very helpful, as are Heck and May (2008) and the rest of Textor (2011). McDowell (1977) is another piece of essential reading, articulating a non-descriptive Fregean approach, but it is quite hard going; it will be easier to understand the main idea after you’ve done TRUTH and MEANING. You might also want to look at the (tendentious) interpretation of Frege in Ch. 1 of Evans (1982), which offers a similar approach to McDowell’s. For more on the debate between Millians (or neo-Russellians) and Fregeans, see Caplan (2007) and Fodor (2008). For an introduction to relationism, an alternative approach developed by Kit Fine, see Gray (2017).

Tyler Burge (2005) Truth, Thought, Reason: Essays on Frege (OUP).

Ben Caplan (2007) 'Millian Descriptivism' in Philosophical Studies 133(2), pp. 181–198.

Michael Dummett (1981) Frege: Philosophy of Language, 2nd edition (Duckworth).

Gareth Evans (1982) The Varieties of Reference (OUP).

Jerry Fodor (2008) LOT 2: The Language of Thought Revisited (OUP), Ch. 3.

Gottlob Frege (1918) 'Thought' in Michael Beaney, ed. (1997) The Frege Reader (Blackwell). Reprinted in Harnish, Ludlow, and M&S.

Aidan Gray (2017) 'Relational Approaches to Frege's Puzzle' in 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).

John McDowell (1977) 'On the Sense and Reference of a Proper Name' in Mind 86(342), pp. 159–185.


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)

‘Whilst it is plausible to suppose that words have a reference, and sentences a sense, it is not nearly so plausible to suppose that words have a sense and sentences a reference.’ Discuss, with reference to ONE or MORE of Frege, Russell, and the Tractatus. (2014, Paper 117)

How can the claim that Barcan is Marcus be informative? (2013, Paper 108)

(I’ve included questions from Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein (Paper 117), which has been discontinued. As I understand it, questions on Frege’s and Russell’s work in the philosophy of logic and language will from now on be set for Philosophy of Logic and Language instead.)




What is Russell’s theory of definite descriptions, and how does he try to motivate it? What are Strawson’s objections to Russell’s theory? Are they compelling, and what alternative account does he have to offer in its place? What are the implications of Donnellan’s distinction between attributive and referential uses of definite descriptions for Russell’s and Strawson’s theories?


*Mark Sainsbury (1995) ‘Philosophical Logic’ in A. C. Grayling, ed. Philosophy: A Guide Through the Subject (OUP), §2 'Descriptions', pp. 77-86.

Bertrand Russell (1919) Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy, Ch. XVI, 'Descriptions'. Reprinted in Ludlow and M&S.

Peter Strawson (1950) 'On Referring' in Mind 59(235), pp. 320-344. Reprinted in Ludlow and M&S.

Keith Donnellan (1966) 'Reference and Definite Descriptions' in Philosophical Review 75(3), pp. 281-304. Reprinted in Harnish, Ludlow and M&S.


Kripke (1977) is a must-read, defending Russell in response to the problems raised by Donnellan. Neale (1990) is an influential exposition and defence of Kripke’s position. See also Recanati (1993), offering a contextualist account of Donnellan’s examples, and Michael Devitt’s contribution to Reimer and Bezuidenhout, eds. (2004), offering an ambiguity account. See also Zacharska (2010), criticising the ambiguity account, and defending the contextualist one. While Russell’s position was for a long time the orthodox position—thanks in large part to Neale (1990)—Strawson’s has made a come back in recent years. Kai von Fintel’s paper in Reimer and Bezuidenhout, eds. (2004) is important here. See also Yablo (2006) and Elbourne (2013). (Paul Elbourne is often an examiner for this paper, so it may be a good idea to gain some familiarity with his views!) For more on the problem of incomplete descriptions, raised by Strawson, see Reimer (1998) and the Core Readings for the topic, QUANTIFIER DOMAIN RESTRICTION. Ludlow (2004/18) is a useful overview of all the issues surrounding definite descriptions.

Paul Elbourne (2013) Definite Descriptions (OUP).

Saul Kripke (1977) 'Speaker's Reference and Semantic Reference' in Midwest Studies in Philosophy 2(1), pp. 255-276. Reprinted in Ludlow and M&S.

Peter Ludlow (2004/18) 'Descriptions' in Edward Zalta, ed. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

Stephen Neale (1990) Descriptions (MIT Press), especially Ch. 3, which is reprinted in Ludlow.

Francois Recanati (1993) Direct Reference (Blackwell), Ch. 15.

Marga Reimer (1998) 'Quantification and Context' in Linguistics and Philosophy 21(1), pp. 95-115.

Marga Reimer and Anne Bezuidenhout, eds. (2004) Descriptions and Beyond (OUP).

Stephen Yablo (2006) 'Non-Catastrophic Presupposition Failure' in Judith Thomson and Alex Byrne, eds. Content and Modality: Themes from the Philosophy of Robert Stalnaker (OUP).

Beata Zacharska (2010) 'Definite Descriptions: Semantic or Pragmatic Polysemy?' in UCL Working Papers in Linguistics 22, pp. 56-63.


Is there any good evidence to show that definite descriptions introduce presuppositions? (2018)

Does Donnellan’s referential/attributive distinction show that definite descriptions are ambiguous? (2017)

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)




Does Kripke succeed in showing that the meaning of a proper name, such as ‘Aristotle’, is not given by a definite description, such as ‘the last great philosopher of antiquity’, that fixes its reference? If so, how should we account for so-called empty names, such as ‘Vulcan’ and ‘Sherlock Holmes’? What is the causal theory of reference? Is it defensible?


*G. W. Fitch (2004) Saul Kripke (Acumen), Ch. 2.

Saul Kripke (1980) Naming and Necessity (Blackwell), Preface, and Lectures I and II. Selections reprinted in Harnish, Ludlow and M&S.

— (2013) Reference and Existence (OUP), pp. 3-78 and pp. 144-60. (This is the transcription of Kripke's John Locke lectures, given in Oxford in 1973.)


In thinking about Kripke’s work on names in more depth, start with Soames (2002), which criticises the two main responses to the modal argument—the wide scope strategy, associated with Michael Dummett, and the actualised description strategy, associated with the likes of John Searle and (as you’ll see from next week’s Core Reading) Frank Jackson. Then look at Sosa (2002), which responds in defence of the wide scope strategy. For critical discussion of the epistemological argument, try Jeshion (2002). See also Graff Fara (2015), defending predicativism, the view (first defended by Tyler Burge) that names are predicates. For more on empty names, start with the criticism of Kripke’s approach in Ch. 10 of Evans (1982), listed in last week’s Further Reading. (Be warned: after criticising Kripke, Evans goes on to present a view that suffers from the same problem.) See also Braun (2005), a defence of Millianism, usefully contrasting his approach with that of other Millians, including Kripke, Amie Thomasson, and Nathan Salmon. And see Sainsbury (2010), a must read if you’re thinking about this week’s issues. Ch. 1 is a great, concise overview of some of the main positions on names, and Ch. 2 and 3 develop a non-descriptivist Fregeanism about empty names, employing a negative free logic. Think also a bit about the metasemantic question, what determines or fixes the reference of a name? Evans (1973) is a classic discussion of the so-called causal theory of reference, tentatively suggested by Kripke. See §3 of Speaks (2010/19) for an overview of the broader issues, some of which we’ll be exploring in weeks to come. For an overview of work on names, see Cumming (2008/19).

David Braun (2005) 'Empty Names, Fictional Names, Mythical Names' in Noûs 39(4), pp. 596-631.

Sam Cumming (2008/19) 'Names' in Edward Zalta, ed. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

Gareth Evans (1973) 'The Causal Theory of Names' in Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supplementary Volumes 47, pp. 187-208. Reprinted in Ludlow and M&S.

Delia Graff Fara (2015) 'Names Are Predicates' in The Philosophical Review 124(1), pp. 59–117.

Robin Jeshion (2002) 'The Epistemological Argument Against Descriptivism' in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 64(2), pp. 325-345.

Mark Sainsbury (2010) Reference Without Referents (OUP).

Scott Soames (2002) Beyond Necessity: The Unfinished Semantic Agenda of Naming and Necessity (OUP), Ch. 2.

David Sosa (2001) 'Rigidity in the Scope of Russell's Theory' in Noûs 35(1), pp. 1-38.

Jeff Speaks (2010/19) 'Theories of Meaning' in Edward Zalta, ed. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:


(a) The name ‘Madagascar’ was originally used to refer to a portion of the African mainland but was then applied to its current bearer (the island) in error. Are cases like this fatal to Kripke’s ‘causal chain’ theory of the reference of proper names?
(b) ‘Kripke’s arguments against descriptivism show that names do not have sense as well as reference.’ Do you agree? (2018)

‘The name “Santa Claus” refers to Santa Claus; but Santa Claus is an abstract object.’ Is this a good way for a Millian to deal with the problem of apparently non-referring names? (2017)

Does ‘Socrates’ mean the same as ‘the actual F’, for some expression ‘F’? (2016)

‘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)




What are the Twin Earth thought experiments, and what are they supposed to show? Are they successful?


*Zoltán Gendler Szabó and Richmond H. Thomason (2019) Philosophy of Language (CUP), Ch. 12.

Hilary Putnam (1975) 'The Meaning of “Meaning”' in Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science (1975), pp. 131-93, especially up to p. 152. Reprinted in his (1975) Mind, Language and Reality: Philosophical Papers: Volume 2, focusing on pp. 215-35, and in Harnish, focusing on pp. 221-39.

Noam Chomsky (1995) 'Language and Nature' in Mind 104(413), pp. 1-61. Reprinted as Ch. 5 and 6 of his (2000) New Horizons in the Study of Language and Mind (CUP).

Frank Jackson (1998) 'Reference and Description Revisited' in Philosophical Perspectives 12, pp. 201–218.


If you’re working on this topic in any depth, Pessin and Goldberg, eds. (1996) is extremely useful. The papers of most immediate relevance are those in Part II, focused on natural kinds and the philosophy of language—see especially the papers by Zemach, Mellor, and Searle. See also the papers by Burge in Part III, defending externalism about the contents of mental states, and Putnam’s introduction, which replies to Searle and Burge. Though it doesn’t tend to come up in exams, you might also want to think about Kripke’s approach to kind terms, rounding out your work on last week’s topic. See especially Lecture III of his Naming and Necessity and Ch. 9 to 11 of Soames (2002), listed, respectively, in the Core and Further Reading for NAMING and NECESSITY. You’ll often find reference to the Kripke-Putnam account of kind terms, and there are certainly some commonalities, but don’t let such talk obscure the important differences between them in both theory and motivation. Hacking (2007) is excellent on this. See also Wikforss (2007), which carefully disentangles various externalist theses at stake in the debate, distinguishing Putnam’s claims from those of both Kripke and Burge. For some recent and sympathetic discussion of Chomsky, see Pietroski (2017). For discussion of Jackson, see Ch. 4 of Kallestrup (2012), which also discusses the two-dimensionalist approach of Chalmers (2002). Segal (2004) offers an internalist account of natural kind concepts, and disputes the relevance of intuitions cited in support of externalism. Lastly, see Yli-Vakurri (2018) for a recent attempt to establish semantic externalism without thought experiments, and Sawyer (2018) for a reply.

David Chalmers (2002) 'The Components of Content (Revised Version)' in David Chalmers, eds. Philosophy of Mind: Classical and Contemporary Readings (OUP).

Ian Hacking (2007) 'Putnam's Theory of Natural Kinds and their Names is not the same as Kripke's' in Principia: an International Journal of Epistemology 11(1), pp. 1–24.

Jesper Kallestrup (2012) Semantic Externalism (Routledge).

Andrew Pessin and Sanford Goldberg, eds. (1996) The Twin Earth Chronicles: Twenty Years of Reflection on Hilary Putnam's 'The Meaning of “Meaning”' (M. E. Sharpe).

Paul Pietroski (2017) 'Semantic Internalism' in James McGilvray, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Chomsky 2nd edition (CUP).

Sarah Sawyer (2018) 'Is There a Deductive Argument for Semantic Externalism? Reply to Yli-Vakkuri' in Analysis 78(4), pp. 675–681.

Gabriel Segal (2004) 'Reference, Causal Powers, Externalist Intuitions, and Unicorns' in Richard Schantz, ed. The Externalist Challenge (Walter de Gruyter).

Åsa Wikforss (2007) 'Semantic Externalism and Psychological Externalism' in Philosophy Compass 3(1), pp. 158–181.

Juhani Yli-Vakurri (2018) 'Semantic Externalism Without Thought Experiments' Analysis 78(1), pp. 81–89.


On balance, should we be internalists or externalists about meaning? (2018)

‘People who say that meanings just ain’t in the head have to admit that we have some kind of mental representation of meanings, in order to explain our psychological competence with language. So postulating external meanings too is just multiplying entities beyond necessity.’ Discuss. (2017)

‘We can have no intuitions as to whether the term water has the same “reference” for Oscar and Twin Oscar: that is a matter of decision about the technical term “reference”.’ (CHOMSKY) Does this consideration undermine the force of Putnam’s Twin Earth thought experiment? (2016)

‘The Twin Earth thought experiment doesn’t establish that meaning isn’t in the head. At best it establishes that either meaning isn’t in the head, or meaning doesn’t determine reference.’ Is this correct? (2015)




What is Kaplan’s solution to the puzzle of invariant meaning, i.e. the fact that, while an indexical can be used to refer to different things on different occasions, its meaning nevertheless remains the same? What are the most serious problems with his solution? How, if at all, are they to be solved?


*Allyson Mount (2012) 'Indexicals' in Delia Graff Fara and Gillian Russell, eds. The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Language (Routledge).

David Kaplan (1989a) 'Demonstratives' in Joseph Almog, John Perry, and Howard Wettstein, eds. Themes from Kaplan (OUP), pp. 481-563. Relevant selections reprinted in Harnish and M&S.

David Braun (1996) 'Demonstratives and Their Linguistic Meanings' Noûs 30(2), pp. 145-73.

Jeffrey C. King (2001) Complex Demonstratives (MIT Press), esp. Ch. 1.


The puzzle of invariant meaning goes back to Frege. See Perry (1977) on Frege’s treatment of the puzzle, arguing that it is inconsistent with certain aspects of his views about sense, and Evans (1985) for a reply. Kaplan’s solution to the puzzle emerged in the early 1970s out of earlier work by Richard Montague and the formal semantics tradition. He expands on his approach in his (1989b). For an alternative approach, emerging around about the same time out of the Davidsonian tradition you can look at in connection with TRUTH and MEANING, see Burge (1974). You’re probably best to focus on the various problems that have been raised with Kaplan’s theory though. Cohen and Michaelson (2013) is an accessible survey piece on the so-called answering machine paradox, threatening Kaplan’s claim that ‘I am here now’ is a logical truth. Reimer (1991) and Bach (1992) debate the role of speakers’ intentions in determining the reference of a demonstrative. For further discussion of King’s approach to complex demonstratives, see his (2008) and the replies from Braun and Salmon in the same issue. You may also want to look at the Special Topic, ASSERTORIC CONTENT and INGREDIENT SENSE, especially the papers by Lewis and King, which discuss Kaplan’s identification of the contents of sentences with what they are used to say. Braun (2001/15) is a survey article on these and other issues surrounding Kaplan’s theory and indexicals and demonstratives more generally.

Kent Bach (1992) 'Intentions and Demonstrations' in Analysis 52(3), pp. 140–146.

David Braun (2001/15) 'Indexicals' in Edward Zalta, ed. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

Tyler Burge (1974) 'Demonstrative Constructions, Reference, and Truth' in Journal of Philosophy 71(7), pp. 205–223.

Jonathan Cohen and Eliot Michaelson (2013) 'Indexicality and the Answering Machine Paradox' in Philosophy Compass 8(6), pp. 580–592.

Gareth Evans (1985) 'Understanding Demonstratives' in his Collected Papers (OUP).

David Kaplan (1989a) 'Afterthoughts' in Joseph Almog, John Perry, and Howard Wettstein, eds. Themes from Kaplan (OUP), pp. 565-614.

Jeffrey King (2008) 'Complex Demonstratives as Quantifiers: Objections and Replies' in Philosophical Studies 141(2), pp. 209–242.

John Perry (1977) 'Frege on Demonstratives' in The Philosophical Review 86(4), pp. 474–497.

Marga Reimer (1991) 'Do Demonstrations Have Semantic Significance?' in Analysis 51(4), pp. 177–183.


Do complex demonstratives have the semantics of definite descriptions? (2018)

Before leaving, Mother Goat instructs the little goats to check the identity of anyone who knocks at the door, lest the Big Bad Wolf call by. When she returns, she knocks at the door and the little goats open it at once. ‘Silly goats,’ she scolds them, ‘I could have been the wolf!’ Does her last utterance cause a problem for Kaplan’s theory of indexicals? (2017)

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)




What are the conversational implicatures of an utterance? How, if at all, can they be distinguished from semantic entailments of what is said and the conventional implicatures of the utterance? What is the best account of how they arise? What are the implications for the semantics/pragmatics distinction?


*Michael Blome-Tillmann (2013) 'Conversational Implicatures (and How to Spot Them)' in Philosophy Compass 8(2), pp. 170–185.

Paul Grice (1975) 'Logic and Conversation' in Peter Cole and Jerry L. Morgan, eds. Syntax and Semantics, Vol. 3: Speech Acts (Academic Press). Reprinted in his (1989) Studies in the Way of Words (Harvard), Harnish, and M&S.

Stephen Neale (1992) 'Paul Grice and the Philosophy of Language' in Linguistics and Philosophy 15(5), pp. 509–59, especially pp. 508-41.

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).


In working on this topic in more depth, start by making sure you’ve got a good grasp of Grice’s own views. To this end, the rest of his (1989) Studies in the Way of Words is essential, particularly the other papers in Part I, Logic and Conversation. See also Saul (2002), arguing that the standard picture of Grice is mistaken. You should also think about the relationship between the category of conversational implicature, on the one hand, and those of conventional implicatures and presuppositions, on the other. For a good introduction, and further references, see Potts (2015). See also Bach (1999), arguing that there is no such thing as conventional implicature, and the reading suggested for PRESUPPOSITION. Otherwise, think about the various refinements, objections, and alternatives to Grice’s theory that have emerged over the years. Key here are the approaches of neo-Griceans, like Larry Horn and Stephen Levinson, and Relevance Theorists, like Deirdre Wilson, Dan Sperber, and Robyn Carston. For good introductions, see the papers by Horn and by Wilson and Sperber in Horn and Ward, eds. (2004). See also Ernie Lepore and Matthew Stone’s (2015) book, building on work by David Lewis on convention and discourse structure to argue that phenomena traditionally explained in terms of general purpose reasoning are to instead be explained in terms of speakers’ knowledge of language. Part I introduces the Gricean, neo-Gricean, and Relevance Theoretic approaches, which are critically discussed in the rest of the book. The wider context is a debate over the contribution linguistic meaning and grammar makes to what is said and the significance of utterances more generally—the so-called semantics-pragmatics holy wars. Important early contributions to this debate include Carston (1988) and Bach (1994). See also the Other Topic, CONTEXT-SENSITIVITY. Recent debate has often focused on scalar implicatures, particularly in embedded contexts. Though it’s something of a special topic, you may want to get a sense of what the debate here is about; Sauerland (2012) is a good place to start. Lastly, see Davis (2005/19) for a survey article on conversational implicature.

Kent Bach (1994) 'Conversational Impliciture' in Mind & Language 9(2), pp. 124–162.

— (1999) 'The Myth of Conventional Implicature' in Linguistics and Philosophy 22(4), pp. 327–366.

Robyn Carston (1988) 'Implicature, Explicature, and Truth-Theoretic Semantics' in Ruth Kempson, ed. Mental Representations (CUP).

Wayne Davis (2005/19) 'Implicature' in Edward Zalta, ed. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2019 edition):

Larry Horn and Gregory Ward, eds. (2004) The Handbook of Pragmatics (Blackwell).

Ernie Lepore and Matthew Stone (2015) Imagination and Convention (OUP).

Christopher Potts (2015) 'Presupposition and Implicature' in Shalom Lappin and Chris Fox, eds. The Handbook of Contemporary Semantic Theory (Blackwell).

Uwe Sauerland (2012) 'The Computation of Scalar Implicatures: Pragmatic, Lexical or Grammatical?' in Language and Linguistics Compass 6(1), pp. 36–49.

Jennifer Saul (2002) 'Speaker Meaning, What Is Said, and What Is Implicated' in Noûs 36(2), pp. 228–248.


Could all the Gricean maxims be reduced to the Maxim of Relation? (2018)

‘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)

(a) How, if it all, do the words ‘and’ and ‘but’ differ in meaning?
(b) Suppose uttering a sentence S seems to imply that Q. How can we tell whether the implication is a semantic entailment or a conversational implicature? (2014)


The following topics are all ones you may wish to study in the last two weeks of term or, having discussed it with me beforehand, in place of some of the first six topics. To help you get a rough sense of each topic and of how likely it is to come up in the exam, I have provided past paper questions for them, but I have not yet got round to settling on essay questions and reading for all of them, and even where I have, I may want to revise them somewhat; you should talk with me about your preferences early on, so as to give me time to make any necessary revisions. For what it’s worth, the most popular choices in previous years have probably been PROPOSITIONAL ATTITUDE REPORTS, INDICATIVE CONDITIONALS, METAPHOR, and VAGUENESS. A sizeable minority of students have wanted to have at least four weeks on topics in the philosophy of logic, including THE LIAR PARADOX, LOGICAL CONSEQUENCE, LOGICAL CONSTANTS, and LOGICAL REVISION and PLURALISM.



Coming soon.


Can Lois believe that Superman is stronger than Clark Kent while not believing that Clark Kent is stronger than Superman? What does your answer tell us about the semantics of propositional attitude reports? (2018)

Do propositional attitude ascriptions just ascribe attitudes towards propositions? (2017)

Bilingual Pierre sincerely assents to ‘Londres est jolie’ but sincerely rejects ‘London is pretty’. Does he believe that London is pretty? (2016)

‘Lois Lane believes that Superman can fly. Superman is identical to Clark Kent. Therefore, Lois Lane believes that Clark Kent can fly’. Is this a valid argument? (2015)



Coming soon.


Is it possible to analyse adverbial modification without event semantics? (2018)

Is Davidson’s a satisfactory theory of adverbs? (2017)

‘Caesar mostly avoids the forum.’ Can ‘mostly’ here be adequately analysed by means of Davidson’s theory of adverbs? (2016)

‘Since Mary decided to cross the channel by swimming rather than by boat, she ended up crossing the channel slowly. But she swam the channel very quickly’. How can a theory of adverbs accommodate these claims? (2015)



Coming soon.


Someone points at Pope Francis and says, ‘He is usually an Italian.’ Is this utterance compatible with the view that pronouns, when not bound, are directly referential? (2018)

What can we learn from the phrase ‘He Who Must Not Be Named’ about the semantics of English pronouns? (2016)




What is the appeal of the suggestion that linguistic meaning can be explained in terms of truth? What are its most pressing problems? Can they be solved?


*Stephen Williams (1998) 'Meaning and Truth' in Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy Online:

Donald Davidson (1967) 'Truth and Meaning' in Synthese 17(1), pp. 304–323. Reprinted in his (2001) Inquiries Into Truth and Interpretation, 2nd edition (OUP), as well as Harnish, Ludlow, and M&S.

— (1976) 'Reply to Foster' in Gareth Evans and John McDowell, eds. Truth and Meaning: Essays in Semantics (OUP). Reprinted in his (2001) Inquiries Into Truth and Interpretation, 2nd edition (OUP).

Scott Soames (2003) Philosophical Analysis in the Twentieth Century, Volume 2: The Age of Meaning (Princeton UP), Ch. 12.


In working on this topic, make sure you have a good grasp of Foster’s problem and of the various solutions that have been offered for it. Segal (1999) gives a very nice, concise explanation of the issue before going on to present a solution, though the main approaches to think about are probably those of John McDowell and Jim Higginbotham. McDowell’s is found in his (1977) paper, listed under SENSE and REFERENCE. Platts (1997) and Wiggins (1997) are very helpful guides to McDowell, but also to the Davidsonian program more generally, and are strongly recommended. Higginbotham’s approach is set out in his (1992). For critical discussion of this, see Soames (2008), to which Lepore and Ludwig (2010) is a response. Other general problems with the project of explaining meaning in terms of truth include the worry, raised early on by Michael Dummett in his (1959), that it is incompatible with deflationism about truth. There are also problems, arguably more concerning details of implementation, relating to non-declarative sentences, whose meanings aren’t obviously amenable to explanation in terms of truth-conditions, and context-sensitivity. There’s some discussion of the former in McDowell (1977), and you can think about the latter in connection with the topics INDEXICALS and DEMONSTRATIVES and, especially, CONTEXT-SENSITIVITY. You’ll also find relevant discussion in the two books I’ve listed by Lepore and Ludwig. Context-sensitivity is discussed in Ch. 5 of their (2005), and non-declaratives in Ch. 12 of their (2007). For other writings by Davidson on the general topic of truth and meaning, see the other papers in (2001) collection, starting with his ‘Radical Interpretation’, which will be of particular interest if you’re thinking about metasemantics and the sort of large-scale issues we first looked at in connection with NAMING and NECESSITY.

Michael Dummett (1959) 'Truth' in Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 59, pp. 141–162. Reprinted in his (1978) Truth and Other Enigmas (Duckworth).

James Higginbotham (1992) 'Truth and Understanding' in Philosophical Studies 65(1/2), pp. 3–16.

Ernie Lepore and Kirk Ludwig (2005) Donald Davidson: Meaning, Truth, Language and Reality (OUP).

— (2007) Donald Davidson’s Truth-Theoretic Semantics (OUP).

— (2010) 'Truth and Meaning Redux' in Philosophical Studies 154(2), pp. 251–77.

Mark Platts (1997) Ways of Meaning: An Introduction to a Philosophy of Language 2nd edition (MIT Press), esp. Ch. I & II.

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).

Scott Soames (2008) 'Truth and Meaning: In Perspective' in Midwest Studies in Philosophy 32, pp. 1–19.

David Wiggins (1997) 'Meaning and Truth Conditions: from Frege's Grand Design to Davidson's' in Bob Hale and Crispin Wright, eds. (2017) A Companion to the Philosophy of Language, 2nd edition (Blackwell).


Is the view that the meaning of a sentence is that sentence’s truth-conditions consistent with a deflationary theory of truth? (2015)

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)




Could the meaning of a word or phrase be the use that is made of it? (2018)

Can any theories of meaning other than truth-conditional ones provide a basis for explaining compositionality? (2017)




Do indicative conditionals have truth conditions? If so, are they truth-functional?


*Dorothy Edgington (2001/14) 'Indicative Conditionals' in E. Zalta, ed. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2014 edition):

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).

Angelika Kratzer (1986) 'Conditionals' in Chicago Linguistics Society 22, pp. 1–15. Reprinted in her (2014) Modals and Conditionals (OUP).

Jackson (1979) and Stalnaker (1975) are both reprinted in Frank Jackson, ed. (1991) Conditionals (OUP), which also contains many other classic readings on this topic.


Bennett (2001) is an even-minded book-length discussion of all the issues. Block (2008) responds on Stalnaker’s behalf to Edgington’s objections to his view. Sainsbury (2001), Douven (2011), and Gillies (2017) are introductory pieces — the last discussing counterfactual as well as indicative conditionals.

Jonathan Bennett (2003) A Philosophical Guide to Conditionals (OUP).

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).

Mark Sainsbury (2001) Logical Forms, 2nd edition (Blackwell), Ch. 3.


‘If Oswald didn’t kill Kennedy, then someone else did. So if Oswald didn’t kill Kennedy, and the person he shot was in fact a lookalike, then someone else killed Kennedy.’ Is this argument valid on the best theory of indicative conditionals? (2018)

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)




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).
Max Black (1979) ‘How Metaphors Work: A Reply to Davidson’ in Critical Inquiry 6(1), pp. 31–47.
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).


Can the theory of conversational implicature give us an adequate account of metaphor? (2018)

‘Metaphor is a shortened form of simile.’ (QUINTILIAN) Is that right? (2017)

Has Cognitive Linguistics advanced our understanding of metaphor? (2016)

Is metaphor a semantic or a pragmatic phenomenon? (2015)




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. Reprinted in his (2008) Occasion-Sensitivity: Selected Essays (OUP).

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).

Herman Cappelen and Ernie Lepore (2003) 'Context Shifting Arguments' in Philosophical Perspectives 17, pp. 25–50.


For more on Cappelen and Lepore’s semantic minimalism (and speech act pluralism) see their (2005) book, and two symposiums on the book, one in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 72(2) and the other in Mind & Language 21(1). See also Borg (2004), who pursues a similar approach, appealing to some ideas in the philosophy of cognitive science. For more on Szabó’s position, indexicalism, see Stanley (2005) and Sainsbury (2001), the latter in my view an under-appreciated gem. See also the position defended in Rothschild and Segal (2009). Semantic minimalism and indexicalism are opposed by both Travis and so-called contextualists, like Robyn Carston and François Récanati. See their (2002) and (2004) books respectively, the latter engaged, among other things, in a debate with Stanley over so-called unarticulated constituents. Other views to think about include the nonindexical contextualism position of Predelli (2005), a position also explored by John Macfarlane, and the view that context-shifting arguments highlight shifts in the linguistic meaning of words like ‘green’, defended by Williamson in his (1999) paper.

Emma Borg (2004) Minimal Semantics (OUP).

Herman Cappelen and Ernie Lepore (2005) Insensitive Semantics: A Defense of Semantic Minimalism and Speech Act Pluralism (Blackwell).

Robyn Carston (2002) Thoughts and Utterances: The Pragmatics of Explicit Communication (Blackwell).

Stefano Predelli (2005) 'Painted Leaves, Context, and Semantic Analysis' in Linguistics and Philosophy 28(3), pp. 351–374.

François Récanati (2004) Literal Meaning (CUP).

Daniel Rothschild and Gabriel Segal (2009) 'Indexical Predicates' in Mind & Language 24(4), pp. 467-493.

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).

Jason Stanley (2007) Language in Context: Selected Essays (OUP).

Timothy Williamson (1999) 'Indefinite Extensibility' in Grazer Philosophische Studien 55, pp. 1-24.


Are there any limits to what can be understood as an unarticulated constituent? What does your answer tell us about the level of representation at which this kind of content arises? (2018)

How extensive is context sensitivity in natural language? (2017)

Is the word ‘penguin’ context-sensitive? (2016)

‘Everywhere I go, it rains.’ Does this variant tell us anything about how reference to a location is introduced in ‘It’s raining’? (2016)




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. 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 M&S.
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.


What are the prospects for a contextualist account of vagueness? (2018)

‘Dissatisfied with all attempts to say what is wrong with sorites arguments, one may be tempted by the simple thought that nothing is wrong with them: a typical sorites argument is sound, its conclusion strange but true.’ (WILLIAMSON) Is this a viable strategy? (2017)

‘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)




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 SemanticsThe 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.


Do Tarski’s truth definitions provide the basis of a definition of the concept of truth? If not, what do they achieve? (2017)

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)




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:

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:


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.


What, if anything, is wrong with the view that Liar sentences are both true and false? (2018)

‘The only solutions to the Liar Paradox that do not lead to further paradox are ad hoc and artificial. We must therefore learn to live with paradox.’ Discuss. (2017)

What are the prospects for a contextualist solution to the Liar Paradox? (2016)

Is the Liar Paradox ultimately a problem concerning self-reference? (2014)



Coming soon.


Does the model-theoretic account of logical consequence overgenerate? (2018)

Does the concept of truth in a model or structure provide the basis of a theoretically adequate account of the concept of logical consequence? (2017)



Coming soon.


Is there any principled distinction between logical and non-logical expressions? If so, what is it? (2018)

Is understanding a logical constant simply a matter of being disposed to reason in accordance with its introduction and elimination rules? (2017)

What is logical and constant about logical constants? (2016)



Coming soon.


‘If we know that P holds, we are either entitled to accept Q or we are not. Two logics that disagree on whether Q is a consequence of P therefore cannot both be correct.’ Is this a decisive objection to logical pluralism? (2018)

Is there more than one correct logic? (2017)

Do non-classical propositional logics just propose different meanings for the propositional connectives to those meanings that classical propositional logic proposes? (2015)



Coming soon.


Does logic have a special role to play in reasoning? (2018)





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:
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.


‘The thesis that there can be no unrestricted quantification must be false, since it entails that there exists something over which we cannot quantify, which is paradoxical.’ Discuss. (2018)

Should we believe in absolutely unrestricted quantification? (2014)



Coming soon.


Could propositions be sets of truth-supporting circumstances? (2016)

‘If propositions are sets of possible worlds, then the proposition that 2+2=4 is identical to the proposition that water is H2O. But this is absurd; so propositions must have a sentence-like structure.’ Discuss. (2015)



Coming soon.


Is presupposition a semantic or pragmatic phenomenon? (2013)



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:

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.



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.