Philosophy of Language

This course investigates some of the main philosophical issues related to language. It is primarily concerned with the nature of meaning and reference. How do our words succeed in picking out particular portions of reality, even ones with which we have had no contact? What are the thoughts, or the meanings, that our words carry? And whatever meanings turn out to be, how do they come to be associated with our words: through some mental activity on our part, or instead through our shared use of language? After we consider several theories about the nature of literal meaning and reference, we will discuss the topics of metaphor and slurs.