Philospot

userpictext book
19.07.12, 10:11 AM

I just finished a student textbook on philosophy of language, based on my regular lectures. It goes through the classic articles by Frege, Russell, Tarski, Davidson, Kaplan, etc, giving detailed expositions, with close attention to the text. I have found that other introductions to philosophy of language have not been satisfactory, either because they are too superficial or because they are too technical for the average undergraduate. I wonder what other people think: do they know of any current texts that explain philosophy of language adequately to students?


4 comments 4 comments ( 1023 views )

No avataraJosé Gusmão Rodrigues
23.07.12, 09:45 PM

I think Truth and Meaning by Kenneth Taylor is introductory without being elementary. He explains all the standard authors and adresses current issues while disentangling the connections between the two subjects of the title. It worked very well for me and some colleagues I know some years ago at least. The book could be considered by some kinda old (1998) and I would have liked a deeper treatment of theories of reference but I think it is the best in that it manages between the two problems you mentioned (neither superficial, nor too technical). I also read other two introductions to the philosophy of language during that time, one by Alexander Miller and the other by William Lycan. Lycan's could be considered not to go in to enough depth, but it has the advantadge of being very clear to students who are trying to get a grasp of the field. Miller's covers more extensively topics the other two don't cover, like Quine's scepticism about meanings, Kripkenstein and the significance of semantics for the anti-realist/realist debate. This may be considered something positive (I liked it), but it may also be more than the average undergraduate can take during one semester (I know students who felt that way). That is why I prefer Taylor's introduction, because it covers well the fundamentals and is not overly ambitious.


userpicColin McGinn
23.07.12, 10:50 PM

Those are some helpful observations. But I wonder how well they explain the classic texts. I find these are too difficult for students, so that it is necessary to provide commentary. Also, do they cover indexicals?


No avataraIcarus33
14.11.12, 03:07 AM

I took my first Philosophy of language course with David Kaplan where we went over the first page of 'Sense and Nominatum' for ten weeks. In my second course with Kaplan we went over sections of "On Denoting' for 10 weeks. There are obvious benefits of that, and some glaring non-benefits. In personal studies I have found Ludlow's book referred to often as well as Martinich's. Though these are mere readers and the expositions are non-existent really.


No avataraJosé Gusmão Rodrigues
12.12.12, 06:28 PM

Miller doesn't and Lycan's introduction covers indexicals more superficially than Taylor's. But you are right that there is a gap in the market for an introduction which gives detailed comments on the classic texts. I suggest that you continue to put amazon links to your recently published and forthcoming books on the left side of the blog page. That would be helpful for people like me intending to acquire them.