Philosophy of Language

Revision as of 04:09, 17 May 2016 by Hevangel (talk | contribs) (Created page with "== Introduction == *Object language *Meta language <br> *Idiolect <br> *Use vs mention distinction e.g. "Jack" has four letters. **Mention of the world "Jack" e.g...")
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to navigation Jump to search


  • Object language
  • Meta language

  • Idiolect

  • Use vs mention distinction

e.g. "Jack" has four letters.

    • Mention of the world "Jack"

e.g. It is very impolite to use the word "shit".

  • Quotation marks.
    • Scare quotes vs mention quotes

e.g. I hate all those "experts"

  • Type vs token


  • I went to the bank.
  • The plane started to bank.
  • You can bank on that
  • Two views:
    • Ambiguity
    • Equivocation
      • sounding the same

  • Vagueness - not the same as ambiguity

  • Three area in study of language:
    • Syntax - structure, well formed, what makes something part of the language
    • Semantic - meaning
    • Pragmatics - context of the language related to surrounding

Written language & Spoken language

  • Written language
    • Graphennes
  • Spoken language
    • Phonennes - equivalent of Graphennes in spoken language.
    • Morphennes - group of phonennes, the building blocks of meaning
      • standalone morphenne is a word.
      • e.g. un-believ-able (3 morphennes)
    • Sentences - sequences of morphennes

Formal language (Sentential Calculus)

  • Primitives
    • Atomic sentences: 'p', 'q', 'r', ...
    • Connectives: '&', '~'
    • Punctuation: '(', ')'
  • Well formed formula (wff)
  1. All atomic sentences are wffs
  2. If A is a wiff, then ~A is a wiff
  3. If A is wiff and B isa wiff, then (A&B) is a wiff


  • meaning relations between sentences' and words'
  • connection to the world.
  • Completeness
    • Is there a proff of every possible valid argument?
  • Consistency
    • Can you construct proofs of only the valid argument?
  • Categorematic vs syn-categorematic
    • Categorematic - categorize the world.
    • sync-categorematic - Relations between categories.


  • The context of the sentence occurs changes the semantic.

  • What is the meaning of the sentences?
    • e.g. she is the chair

  • Proposition
    • not the sentence, but what the sentence means.
    • the sort of thing that is true of false, (bearer of truth value).
    • e.g. She is the chair of philosophy department at SFU.

  • Is metaphor or irony semantic or pragmatic issue?
    • e.g. I'm in hock (means: I'm in debt)


  • Wittgenstein - meaning of the word = naming
  • Locks holds the opposite view
    • Locks is not consistence to himself, if he is, he will be Hume or Bereley
    • Only access to our ideas, but nothing in the world.
  • words = idea
  • no internal connection between words and ideas.
  • language is an arbitrary set of symbols to represent the world.
  • language is for communication
    • language is no use if it does not invoke the same idea in other people
    • Once we learn words, it brings idea to us.
    • We often speaks without knowing the word means

General terms

  • Most words are general (not proper names)
    • not enough words to name everything
    • not useful for communication
    • all knowledge is relating general idea to general ideas (Plato's point)
  • every thought we have is general ideas about a particular thing
  • skip over "what is abstraction" (too big of an issue to deal with in the class)

Glottlob Frege

  • 1848-1925
  • Originally focus on philosophy of Mathematics
  • Invented Quantification
    • analysis a sentence in term of two things:
      • the objects it applies
      • the properties attribute to the objects.

  • Try to prove mathematics as logic and set theory
    • For any property (attribute, description), there is a set of things satisfying it.

  • Bertrand Russell
    • Russell's paradox.
      • There are 1. sets that contains itself AND 2.sets that does not contain itself
      • What about {sets that do not contain themselves} are not member of themselves

  • Frege's notion of concept (Begriff)
    • e.g. is a prime number
    • There is a set of things X such that X is a prime number.
  • Qualifier (how wide the predicate applies)
    • e.g. {nothing, everything, something, anything) in Paris.
    • There is an X, such that X is in Paris. (something is in Paris)
      • Added "It is not the case that...." (nothing in Paris)

  • Three important papers
    • Sense & Reference
    • Concept & objects
    • Concept & functions

Thoughts, A Logic Inquiry

    • anti-psychologism.
  • Laws of logic
    • Laws of Truth
  • Descriptive
    • not psychological laws
  • Sense of sentence = a thought (proposition)
  • Sense of a sentence has a Truth value.
    • Bearer of truth value, the kind of thing True/False apply is a proposition.
  • think, vs judge vs assert
  • The content of a sentence is distinct from the thought it expresses.
    • Only description can have true of false value.
    • There is an objective relation between sense and the world
    • There is an objective relation between sense and truth.

  • Truth is a weird quality of a thought.
  • Examples:
    • "Every boy loves a girl", has two meanings:
      • There is a girl, such that every boy loves her
      • For every boy, there is (some or other) girl he loves

  • The sentences is the basic unit of meaning.
  • Context principle - Only in the context of a sentence does a word have a meaning.
    • Every sentences has a Truth conditions.

On Sense and Reference

  • Original German name: Uber Sinn und Beduetung
    • Sinn = Sense
    • Bedeutung = reference/nominatum/meaning

  • What is the = sign?
    • Identify is either necessary true or necessary false?
    • Then it becomes tautology.
    • = is about relations of objections.
  • e.g.: the morning star = the evening star (= Venus)
  • a priori - knowable without any prior experience
    • necessary truth
  • analytic - relations of ideas
  • synthetic a priori - not analytic, not matters of facts.

  • Naive Theory (Kaplan coined the term for Ferge's view)
    • A single sentence has two parts: subject, predicate.
      • The subject term picks out a thing.
      • The predicate says something about it.
    • The meaning of a name is its object

  • Sense
    • mode of presentation
    • determines the referent (nominatum)
  • 1. MS = ES - "MS" refers to the samething as "ES". This has new discovery.
  • 2. ES = ES - "ES" refers to the something as "ES".

  • Semantic ascent - rejected by Ferge.
  • Proper name:
    • Frege: Singular term
      • e.g. Every man is mortal.
      • Aristotle is mortal

  • Ferge's 1st & 2nd law
    • 1. The reference of the whole is determined by the reference of the parts
    • 2. The sense of the whole is a function of the senses of the parts

  • Cognitive significant
    • "The person who is loved by Mary" = "The person whom May loves".
    • The referent is the same.

  • Mode of presentation
    • What a name expresses (in a context)
    • What a competent speaker grasps
    • determines the reference.
  • The world is not about things, it about facts.
  • Principle of Extensionality
  • Two technical terms:
    • Extension - Beduetung
    • Intension - Sinn


  • Denoting phrase (noun phrase)
    • A phrase that can be used as the subject term of a sentence.
      • other than proper names

  • C(x) - a proposition in which X is a constituents
    • propositional function
    • attribute - C(x)
      • C(x) is always true
      • C(x) is sometimes true
  • Meinoy's theory
    • The world are populated by non-actual objects, even not existing object that can be talk about.
  • 4 puzzles
    • Frege-puzzle - how an a=a and a=b differ in cognitive value?
  • If a is identical with b then whatever is true of the other, so either maybe satisfactions in say proposition without altering its truth/false value?
  • If "a" refers to the something as "b". Then for all sentence with "a", you may substitute "b".
  • Prop attribute
  • Non-referring expression (excluded middle)
  • Negative existent.

  • Frege thinks there is truth value gap



  • Speech act
    • locautionary acts
      • phonetic (make sounds
      • Grammatic (belongs to a language)
      • Rhoetic (expressing proposition or other meaning)
    • illocationary acts
      • what we do in speaking
    • perlocationary acts
      • what we do by speaking


  • How come the sounds has meaning?
  • How does meaning arise?

  • Natural meaning
  • Non-natural meaning

  • What is it for an action to mean something?
    • 1. Speaker intend to produce a belief
    • 2. Audience needs to recognize the intention in 1.

Strawson, Intention and Convention in Speech Acts

  • illocutionary act depends on the action, not on the sentences you are expressing.
    • e.g. "I promise"... If you hurt my child, I promise I will kill you. (It's a threat, not a promise)

  • conventional vs unconvential distinction.
    • illocutionary act depends on convention.

  • 1. S intended to produce by writing x a certain response in A
  • 2. S intends that A shall recognize his intention in 1.
  • 3. S intend that A's recongition of the intention in 1 be part of the reason for A's responding in the way S intends.

Grice, Logic and Conversation

  • Co-operative principle (governs contacts)
    • quantity
      • say enough
      • don't say too much
    • quality
      • Tell the truth
      • say only what you have evidence for
    • relation
      • be relevant
    • manner
      • avoid obscurity
      • avoid ambiguity
      • be brief
      • be orderly

Donnellan, Reference and Definite Descriptions

Disagree with Russell on denoting


  • a relationship between phrase and object


  • in both cases, the definite description denotes, referential use, the speaker refers.

  • Attributive use:
    • Assert something about the person, where he/she may be,whoever fits the description:
  • Referential use:
    • The description is used to enable the audience to pick out the particular person the speaker has in mind.

Kaplan, Dthat

  • S - the property of being a spy
  • P - the property of being suspicious

  • 3. Th spy is suspicious
  • < <'The', S>, P >

  • 4. Jon is suspicious
  • < John, P >

  • Trans-world identity.
  • Meaning of sentence
  • Contextural factors
  • The context (proposition)

  • 12. He [the speaker points at John] is suspicious.

  • Direct reference vs reference mediated by sense

  • Indexical (ego-centric)
    • I am hungry
      • The person who speaking is hungry
      • The people who is speaking at time xyz is hungry at xyz. (Eternal sentence)
  • Demonstrative - indexed that require a demonstration

  • The meaning of a phrase
    • character
      • function from context of utterance to contact
    • content
      • Truth condition
      • function from circumstance of evaluation to truth value.

Kripke, Naming and Necesity

  • Designator

Proper name

  • giving the meaning
  • fixing the reference

  • a poiroi - epistemic concept
  • necessary - metaphysical concept

  • 1 meaning
  • 2 sensse in circumstances
  • 3. congnitive signiture
  • 4. determined referent (fixes)

  • 1. for every name X, every speakder A, there is a cluster of properties p(), such that A believes p(X)
  • 2. Some subset of S in believeral to pick out X uniquely
  • 3. If most of S is satisfed by one object, then that object is it
  • 4. If there is no such object, X doesn't refer
  • 5. If X exists, then X has most of the p() is knonw apriori
  • 6. If X exists, then X has most of the p() is known necessary
  • 7. No circularity

Putnam, Meaning and Reference

  • meaning of "meaning"
  • natural-kind terms
  • intensions
    • connection, sense, meaning
  • extensions
    • reference, momeantum, denotation.

Quine, Two Dogmas of Empiricism

  • Kant - Analytic/Synthetic
  • Leibniz - Truth of Reason/of fact
  • Hume - Reflective of ideas/matter of fact