Howard University College of Arts and Sciences
Department of Philosophy
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Philosophy of Language

Phil 166

Dr. Cara Spencer

This course is an introduction to the philosophy of language. We will consider several interrelated questions about language, meaning, and context, including the following:

1. What distinguishes words from meaningless sounds and squiggles, and what determines the specific meaning of a word? Is it simply conventional that a word has a particular meaning, or are there any innate constraints on what words (or complex grammatical like phrases or sentences) can mean? What role (if any) do speakers’ intentions play in determining what a word means?
2. How does the context of someone’s utterance (i.e. who is talking, who is listening, what else has just been said, what is common knowledge among the speaker and listeners) help to determine the meaning of that utterance? Is there anything systematic or general that we can say about how context determines what is meant?

II. Required Texts 
1. William G. Lycan, Philosophy of Language: a contemporary introduction. London and New York: Routledge 2000 
2. A.P. Martinich Philosophy of Language. 4th Edition. New York: Oxford UP 2001.
3. Course Packet 


African American Philosophy
Afro-Caribbean Philosophy
Ancient Egyptian Philosophy
Ancient Egyptian Philosophy
Ancient Greek Philosophy
Classical Ethics
Comparative Philosophy: Philosophical Explanations of Evil Across Cultures
Current Topics: Philosophy and Ethics of Appropriate Technology and Development
Current Topics: Africana Philosophy and Film
Environmental Ethics
Ethics and Public Policy
Ethics of Medical Care
Ethics of Medical Care
History of Africana Philosophy
Introduction to Ethics
Introduction to Philosophy
Introduction to Social and Political Philosophy
Medieval Philosophy
Modern Philosophy
Philosophy of Education
Philosophy of Language
Philosophy of Mind
Philosophy of Religion
Philosophy of Social Science
Principles of Reasoning
Representative Thinkers
Seminar on Aristotle 
Symbolic Logic


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