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Philosophy of Language, Second Edition

Alexander Miller
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 300
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    Philosophy of Language, Second Edition
    Book Description:

    Starting with Gottlob Frege's foundational theories of sense and reference, Miller provides a useful introduction to the formal logic used in all subsequent philosophy of language. He communicates a sense of active philosophical debate by confronting the views of the early theorists concerned with building systematic theories - such as Frege, Bertrand Russell, and the logical positivists - with the attacks mounted by sceptics - such as W.O. Quine, Saul Kripke, and Ludwig Wittgenstein. This leads to important excursions into related areas of metaphysics, philosophy of mind, and cognitive science that present the more recent attempts to save the notions of sense and meaning by philosophers such as Paul Grice, John Searle, Jerry Fodor, Colin McGinn, and Crispin Wright. Miller then returns to the systematic program by examining the formal theories of Donald Davidson, concluding with a chapter surveying the relevance of philosophy of language to the broader metaphysical debates between realists and anti-realists. Miller's clear, engaged, and coherently structured approach makes Philosophy of Language an ideal text for undergraduate courses. The guides to further reading provided in each chapter help the reader pursue interesting topics further and facilitate using the book in conjunction with primary sources.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6706-1
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-x)
  3. Preface to the first edition
    (pp. xi-xiii)
  4. Preface to the second edition
    (pp. xiv-xiv)
  5. Acknowledgements, first edition
    (pp. xv-xv)
  6. Acknowledgements, second edition
    (pp. xvi-xvi)
  7. General notes
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  8. Chapter 1 Frege: Semantic value and reference
    (pp. 1-22)

    Philosophy of language is motivated in large part by a desire to say somethingsystematicabout our intuitive notion of meaning, and in the Preface (to the first edition) we distinguished two main ways in which such a systematic account can be given. The most influential figure in the history of the project of systematising the notion of meaning (in both of these ways) is Gottlob Frege (1848–1925), a German philosopher, mathematician, and logician, who spent his entire career as a professor of mathematics at the University of Jena. In addition to inventing the symbolic language of modern logic,²...

  9. Chapter 2 Frege and Russell: Sense and definite descriptions
    (pp. 23-89)

    We have been looking at Frege’s attempt to give a systematic account of meaning. We started out with the intuition that the validity of arguments depends upon the semantic properties possessed by the expressions out of which their constituent sentences are constructed. So, one way to find out what semantic properties a systematic treatment of meaning should employ would be to ask which properties of expressions are relevant to the validity of arguments in which they appear. We saw that a plausible answer to this question, in the case of whole sentences, was the property of truth. So we defined...

  10. Chapter 3 Sense and verificationism: Logical positivism
    (pp. 90-125)

    In Chapters 1 and 2 we looked at some aspects of Frege’s attempt to systematise our intuitive notion of meaning, and how that attempt was modified in various ways by Russell. In this chapter we will look at another attempt: that carried out by thelogical positivists. Logical positivism was a school of philosophy, centred in Vienna, which grew up in the 1920s and 1930s, and which was institutionalised in the “Vienna Circle”. The leading figure in the Circle was Moritz Schlick (1882-1936), and it counted among its supporters philosophers such as Neurath, Weissman, Feigl, Gödel, Ayer, Carnap, and Hahn....

  11. Chapter 4 Scepticism about sense (I): Quine on analyticity and translation
    (pp. 126-164)

    In the previous chapters we have concentrated on the various ways in which Frege, Russell, and the logical positivists attempted to systematise our intuitive notion of meaning. In this chapter we move on to look at what appears to be a much more negative outlook on meaning:scepticism. We will look at three main lines of philosophical scepticism about the notion of meaning, two of which are associated with the influential American philosopher W.V.O. Quine (1908–2000). In §4.1–4.5 we discuss Quine’s attack on the analytic/synthetic distinction; in §4.5–4.10 we discuss Quine’s thesis of the indeterminacy of translation;...

  12. Chapter 5 Scepticism a bout sense (II): Kripkeʹs Wittgenstein and the sceptical paradox
    (pp. 165-202)

    In this chapter we move on to look at another form of scepticism about sense, that developed by Kripke’s Wittgenstein in Kripke’sWittgenstein on Rules and Private Language.¹ Let Jones be a representative speaker of English, and consider sentences such as “Jones meansadditionby ‘+’”, “Jones understands the ‘+’ sign to meanaddition”, “The sense that Jones associates with the ‘+’ sign is such that it stands for theadditionfunction”. KW argues for a form of constitutive scepticism about such claims: there is no fact of the matter which constitutes Jones’s meaning one thing rather than another by...

  13. Chapter 6 Saving sense: Responses to the sceptical paradox
    (pp. 203-245)

    In the previous chapter, we outlined Kripke’s Wittgenstein’s sceptical conclusion: there are no facts in virtue of which ascriptions of meaning, such as “Jones means addition by ‘+’”, are either true or false. We saw that this conclusion threatened us with a sceptical paradox to the effect that no-one ever means anything by any linguistic expression, and also that KW’s own attempt at rehabilitating meaning in the face of this conclusion – the sceptical solution – faces severe difficulties. We now look at a number of attempted “straight” solutions to the sceptical argument, solutions which try to meet the sceptic...

  14. Chapter 7 Sense, intention, and speech acts: Griceʹs programme
    (pp. 246-270)

    In the previous three chapters we have considered various versions of scepticism about meaning, and we have suggested a number of lines of response to such scepticism. Our discussion of attempts to save sense in the light of semantic scepticism has been far from exhaustive. Rather than discuss further responses to scepticism about sense, we return, in the final three chapters, to questions about the nature of sense and the relationship of issues in the theory of meaning to metaphysical issues in philosophy in general.

    In his inaugural lecture, delivered in Oxford in 1969, PE Strawson began by asking a...

  15. Chapter 8 Sense and truth: Tarski and Davidson
    (pp. 271-305)

    In §1.7 and §2.5 we introduced the idea of a systematic semantic theory in the formal sense: a theory which delivers, for each well-formed declarative sentence of a particular language, a theorem which gives the meaning or sense of that sentence. We saw that for Frege the sense of a sentence can be given by stating its truth-condition:

    Every [sentence] expresses a sense, a thought. It is determined by what we have laid down under what conditions every such [sentence] designates The True. The sense of this [sentence], the thought, is the sense or thought that these conditions are fulfilled.¹...

  16. Chapter 9 Sense, world, and metaphysics
    (pp. 306-338)

    In this chapter, we return to an issue which loomed large in Chapter 3: the relationship between the philosophy of language and metaphysics. Philosophers no longer believe the positivist idea that philosophy of language can enable us to dispense with metaphysical debate: instead, the philosophy of language has come to be viewed as atoolwe might use in attempting to get clearer on what metaphysical questions are and on how they might be answered. In particular, philosophy of language has come to be regarded as central in the metaphysical debates betweenrealistsand their opponents. The literature on this...

  17. Notes
    (pp. 339-375)
  18. Bibliography
    (pp. 376-388)
  19. Index
    (pp. 389-394)