PHI6010  Reference and Truth


This module offers students an introduction to some of the central issues in the Philosophy of Language, focusing on issues concerning meaning, reference and truth. We will consider questions like the following. How does a proper name like "Tony Blair" refer to a certain person? Is meaning just a matter of reference? Do descriptions work like names? What are we to make of expressions that donĀ“t refer to anything that currently exists, e.g. "Santa Claus" or "the largest natural number"? What is the relation between the meaning of a sentence I utter and what I intend to convey by it? We will also consider the vagueness of natural language and the associated paradox of the heap.

Preparatory Reading:

Any of the following books would give you an idea of the issues to be covered and dipping into them would provide good preparatory reading: M. Devitt and K. Sterelny, Language and reality: an introduction to the philosophy of language (2nd ed. Blackwell, 1999); G. McCulloch, The game of the name (Clarendon, 1989); P. Engel, The norm of truth (Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1991).

Lectures and Seminars:

The module is also available to undergraduates as PHI201.

If there are three or more postgraduates taking the module, a separate seminar will be scheduled for postgraduates only.