Language Studies

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Philosophy of Language, Linguistics, Semiotics, Languages, Cognitive Sciences, Analytical Philosophy, Logic (particular semantic conceptions of truth), Metaphysics.


Philosophy of language is organised around general questions of language and meaning, general and abstract aspects of language in e.g. Philosophy of Linguistics, and more specific problems.

What form should a theory of meaning take in a particular language. See Donald Davidson attempt to construct systematic meaning theory. Question of copying with context-sensitive expression. Traditional Theories - Lycan, chapter 5, Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding, recommended: Hacking, Why Does Language Matter to Philosophy?, chapters 2-5 ; "Use" Theories - Lycan, chapter 6 , Wittgenstein, selection from Philosophical Investigations ; Psychological Theories - Lycan, chapter 7 ; Verificationism - Lycan, chapter 8, Ayer, Language, Truth, and Logic ; Truth-Condition Theories - Lycan, chapters 9-10, David Lewis, "Languages and Language". See also Dummett for a critique of Davidson.


  • incommensurability - a state in which an undistorted translation cannot be produced between two or more denotational texts. Closely related to linguistic indeterminacy.Quine.

Themes & Traditions


Paul Grice (thought explanatorily prior to lang, conversational implicature), Donald Davidson (thought and lang interdependent), Michael Dummett (language prior to thought (behaviouristic approach)), Gottlob Frege (truth-referential approach to semantics, Theory of Meaning), Bertrand Russell (theory of descriptions), Jerry Fodor (language-of-thought hypothesis or mentalese), Saul Kripke, Ludwig Wittgenstein, John Langshaw Austin (locutionary, illocutionary, perlocutionary), John Searle, Richard Rorty, Noam Chomsky (natural or innate lang), Benjamin Whorf, Quine,

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