16:730:670 Adv Topics in Philosophy of Language
- Semester: Fall 2022
- Instructor: King, Jeffrey
A significant portion of the course will be spent on the phenomenon of quantifier domain restriction and related issues. It seems clear that if I utter the sentence ‘Every student passed’ in context, I may manage to convey a claim about a more restricted domain than the domain of students, say the students in Philosophy 420 in fall 2022 at Rutgers. One central question is how we manage to do this. A related question is whether this phenomenon is semantic or pragmatic. We will also get into the problem of so-called incomplete definite descriptions. Strawson pointed out that one can apparently truly say in context ‘The table is covered with books’ talking about a particular table before us. This has been thought to be a problem for a Russellian account of definite descriptions. We’ll talk about whether it is or not. Finally, in the last few weeks of the course, we’ll talk about the phenomenon of deferred reference. It turns out to be non-trivial to state what deferred reference is in a way that is both precise and theory neutral. Suffice it to say that if I clearly point at a picture of Ernie and say ‘He is a philosopher.’, all parties agree that this is an instance of deferred reference in virtue of the fact that I demonstrated a picture in uttering ‘he’ but Ernie is its semantic value in context. But we will also be discussing cases of descriptive readings of indexicals in this part of the course. An example from Nunberg: we are looking at Pope Francis decked out in full Pope regalia. I point at him and say ‘He’s usually Italian.’ Here I convey the claim that the Pope is usually Italian (and not the claim that Pope Francis is usually Italian). Nunberg claims this is an example of deferred reference too.
Though quantifier domain restriction and deferred reference are the main topics of the seminar, needless to say, lots of other issues will arise in our readings and discussions.
- Credits: 3
- Syllabus Disclaimer: The information on this syllabus is subject to change. For up-to-date course information, please refer to the syllabus on your course site (e.g. Canvas) on the first day of class.