PHILOSOPHY OF LANGUAGE mutuato
FILOSOFIA DEL LINGUAGGIO
Introduction to the analytic philosophy of language
Introduzione alla filosofia analitica del linguaggio
|Lecturer||Office hours for students|
|Mario Alai||After each class and upon appointment|
|Teaching in foreign languages|
Course with optional materials in a foreign language
This course is entirely taught in Italian. Study materials can be provided in the foreign language and the final exam can be taken in the foreign language.
Assigned to the Degree Course
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The course will offer an introduction to the analytic philosophy of language as it was shaped and developed in the XX Century. It will be helpful both to those following a course in philosophy, and to those who jest wish to enrich their humanistic or scientific education through the basic notions of this discipline, which is one of the most noticeable features of our culture. We will mainly study semantics, the area in which the research in the last century produced its most important results. We will examine both the main problems and the authors which can be considered as the classics, who are still at the basis of the contemporary debates. This study will require intellectual commitment, but will help to develop rigor, clarity and precision of language and thought. This is why it is advisable to attend classes regularly since the beginning, with an active participation. Those unable to attend classes can study on the text listed below, but this will involve hard work and capacities for self-guided learning, analysis and abstract thought.
What is philosophy of language. From the problem of the foundations of mathematics to the problem of meaning. Sinn, Bedeutung and compositionality in Frege. The picturing conception of language in Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. The truth-conditional conception of meaning. Russell: set-theoretic paradoxes; theory of types; semantic monism; definite descriptions; logical atomism. The origins, developments and problems of the semantic verificationism of neopositivism. Carnap’s intensional semantics. Meaning as use in the later Wittgenstein. Descriptivistic conceptions of references and theories of direct reference.
No previous courses are required. In preparation to this course, it may be useful, but by no means mandatory, to read the relevant chapters of a high school handbook of philosophy: Logical Neopositivism, analytic philosophy, Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein, Carnap, and Quine
Learning Achievements (Dublin Descriptors)
Knowledge and understanding: By the end of the course the students should be able to understand and explain easy to medium difficulty philosophical texts, know and discuss some of the classical problems in philosophy of language, and employ some of the main bibliographic and information tools in the area.
Applying knowledge and understanding: After the course the students should be able to discuss and evaluate the main claims and arguments in the XX Century philosophy of language, and apply their knowledge to common examples from everyday language.
Making judgements: After the course the students should be able to make autonomus judgements about the main topics in the XX century debates on semantics. To this end, discussion in the class will be encouraged, and students will be evaluated, among the rest, also for the capacity for autonomous elaborations of the materials.
Communication skills: After the course the students should be able to report about the topics of the course and discuss them with conceptual and linguistic precision; they should also be able to frame general pictures to outline the problems efficaciously and synthetically. To this end they will learn to manage the basic philosophical volcabulary in this field. In order to achieve these results both a careful analysis of the assigned texts and an active participation in the classroom discussion will be important.
Learning skills: By the end of the course students should have become somewhat familiar with the topics and the methods of this discipline, so to be able to acquire new knowledge autonomously by using the main bibliographical resources in this area and in bordering areas. More generally, it is expected that students improve their attitudes to conceptual analysis and analytic argumentation.
The teaching material prepared by the lecturer in addition to recommended textbooks (such as for instance slides, lecture notes, exercises, bibliography) and communications from the lecturer specific to the course can be found inside the Moodle platform › blended.uniurb.it
The materials available for the course, all communications from the teacher, and any other further actvities can be found on the web platform Moodle › https://blended.uniurb.it
Didactics, Attendance, Course Books and Assessment
Classroom lectures presenting general overviews, analyses of particular topics, comments to texts, preceded and followed by students’ questions, comments and discussion. Short readings from the literature relevant to each class will be assigned for homework and questions about them will be encouraged at next meeting.
It is strongly advised to attend lectures regularly and actively since the beginning. Because of the critical and analytic character of the topics an active participation in the discussion is very important. Therefore it is recommended to study the materials assigned during each lecture before the next class.
The competence in understanding theoretical texts and in abstract reasoning as ordinarily learned in high school are presupposed by this course.
- Course books
(1) "Introduzione alla filosofia analitica del Linguaggio" lecture notes available on the Blended learning platform
(2) L. Wittgenstein, Antologia dal Tractatus (9 pp.), file available on the Blended learning platform
(3) R. Carnap, "Purificazione della teoria della conoscenza da pseudoproblemi", in: R. Carnap, La costruzione logica del mondo, F.lli Fabbri 1966. E-book: UTET, De Agostini 2013, € 4,99
--- The following articles included in the anthology Filosofia del linguaggio, a cura di P. Casalegno et. al., Raffaello Cortina, 2003:
(4) G. Frege, "Senso e significato" §§ 1- 5.
(5) B. Russell, "Le descrizioni".
(6) L. Wittgenstein, "Significato, uso, comprensione".
(7) S. Kripke, "Nomi e riferimento"
(8) H. Putnam, "Significato, riferimento, stereotipi".
--- The following texts may be halpful, but are not required:
(9) D. Marconi, La filosofia del linguaggio. Da Frege ai giorni nostri, UTET, 1999.
(10) P. Casalegno, Filosofia del linguaggio. Un'introduzione, Carocci, 1998,
(11) W. Lycan, Filosofia del linguaggio, Cortina Editore, 2002.
(12) C. Penco, Introduzione alla filosofia del linguaggio, Laterza, Roma-Bari, 2004
(13) M. Alai “Frege e Russell: dualismo o monismo semantico?”, in P. Piccari (a cura di) Forme di realtà e modi del pensiero. Saggi in onore di Mariano Bianca, Mimesis 2016. Available on the Blended Learning platform
(14) I capitoli di un manuale di storia della filosofia riguardanti: Neopositivismo Logico; Filosofia Analitica; Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein, Carnap.
Each of these works may be also studied in an English edition or substituted with an English equivalent
Students are allowed to choose between a written exam on the first available examination date, and an oral exam on the subsequent dates. The written exams consists of four open questions, one of which can be substituted by a second-choice question, in case the question picks one of the few gaps in the student's knowledge The written exam allows a comparative and more objective assessment of the students’ learning, while testing the capacities for reflection, writing and argumentation. However the option to choose instead the oral examination allows even the students less familiar with written examinations to seek a good final mark. Both the written and the oral exam are intended to ascertain not only what and how much the students have learned both about the basic concepts of the discipline, and its most important historical developments, but also their comprehension, the acquisition of better attitudes to analysis, exposition, analytic argumentation, and of the capacity to discuss in a critical and possibly original way the topics of classes and assigned readings. All of these criteria will have equal weight in the assessment, but the minimal basis, sufficient to pass the course, will be a sufficiently clear exposition of the basic concepts and contents. Each question of the written exam will be marked from 1 to 10, according to the described criteria. Then the average of the four questions will be expressed on a scale of 1 to 30, making sure that the best students can in any case receive satisfactory marks, and the different levels of performance are adequately distinguished. The curve helps to make up for the contingent factors which can affect the average performance of the students in one academic year with respect to students of other years, or of the students of this course with respect to other courses, thus seeking diachronically and synchronically uniform standards for all students. In the oral examination two or three open questions will be asked, followed by further questions if needed to achieve a more precise and reliable evaluation. Each answer will be graded from 1 to 30 according to the above criteria and the considerations guiding the curvature of the written exam. The final grade will then be the average of partial grades. Active participation in class discussion will also weight in the assessment, contributing to the choice of the curve and to decide the grade in case of uncertainties between a higher or lower grade.
Additional Information for Non-Attending Students
Individual study according to the directions given by the Vademecum and by taking advantage as far as possible of the tutoring given by the teacher during office hours or through electronic communication devices. Notes from the lectures will be available on Moodle › https://blended.uniurb.it
In order to make up for the attendance, a particularly careful work is required. The competence in understanding theoretical texts and in abstract reasoning as ordinarily learned in high school are presupposed by this course. Besides, in the lack of attendance to classes one needs good capacity for self-directed learning and basic capacities for understanding philosophical texts. If possible it is highly advisable to study together with other students, whether attending classes or not. It is advisable to test one’s grasp of the topics by trying to produce examples of the relevant concepts. To help self-evaluation the teacher will provide, even upon request, list of sample exam questions. In order to substitute as far as possible the active participation to classes, students can fix with the teacher the topic of a term paper which must be turned in in advance befor the final exam.
In place of the interactive learning ordinarily taking place during classes, the students may agree with the instructor on the topic of a short essay which will be handed in at least one week before the exam.
- Course books
1. "Introduzione alla filosofia analitica del Linguaggio" lecture notes available on the Blended learning platform
2. D. Marconi, La filosofia del linguaggio. Da Frege ai giorni nostri, UTET, 1999.
3. Three of the following essays in the anthology: Filosofia del linguaggio (a cura di P. Casalegno et al.), Raffaello Cortina, 2003: Senso e significato; Le descrizioni; Significato, uso e comprensione; Due dogmi dell'empirismo; Nomi e riferimento; Significato, riferimento e stereotipi.
The following texts are merely optional, but may help to clarify any problem or questions concerning the interpretation of the above listed texts:
4. P. Casalegno, Filosofia del linguaggio. Un'introduzione, Carocci, 1998.
5. W. Lycan, Filosofia del linguaggio, Cortina Editore, 2002.
6. C. Penco, Introduzione alla filosofia del linguaggio, Laterza, Roma-Bari, 2004. ---Text 2. can be substituted by one of the texts 4., 5., or 6.
---- Each of these works may be also studied in an English edition or substituted by some English equivalent
Students are allowed to supplement their oral exam by agreeing with the instructor on the topic of a short essay which will be handed in at least one week before the exam.
Oral exam, or, upon previous agreement with the teacher, written examination at the first available date after the end of the course. Both the oral and the written exam will be as described for attending students. They consist of open questions intended to ascertain not only what and how much the student has learned both about the basic concepts of the discipline, and its most important historical developments, but also their comprehension and capacity to discuss in a critical and possibly original way the topics of classes and assigned readings. If the student writes a term paper on a topic agreed upon with the teacher, it will also be taken into account in the final evaluation on a par with the other criteria.
Foreign students are allowed to use the English, French or Spanish language for all the study texts, questions and comments in the classroom, and for the final exam
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