LPS 215 topics in analytic philosophy spring 2006 R. may


The topic of this seminar will be the notion of language as it is employed in the philosophy of language. The seminar will be divided into two parts, of somewhat unequal length. The first part will be devoted to the change in the conception of language that marked the transition from structural linguistics to generative linguistics (the so-called "Chomskian revolution"). We will approach this not only as a chapter in the philosophy of language, but also as an important chapter in the philosophy of science, in large part because much of the discussion centers around to what extent, and how, the study of language can be understood as a scientific inquiry, continuous with the other natural sciences. From this discussion, which will be devoted to reading some of the classic literature from the mid-50's to the mid-70's (largely by Chomsky), an articulation of the subject matter of the study of language will emerge, and in particular this will involve an articulation of the relation of syntax, semantics and pragmatics. This will lead us to explore, in the second part of the seminar, the most influential work, that of Grice, especially in "Logic and Conversation" devoted to articulating this distinction.



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Robert May
University of California, Davis

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