Philosophy of Language
Essay Topics on Traditional Anglo-American Philosophy
Under Parts I - IV, respond to A or B. Write in your own words (with
few direct quotes and little paraphrasing) and aim for accuracy, relevancy,
clarity, and incisiveness. Each response is to be between 350
and 400 words. (After each response, please provide a word count.)
Your exam of about 1,500 total words is due on the third class following
the distribution of the essay topics. Grades on late exams will be
lowered one letter grade for each class day that they are late. Exams
are to be printed on white paper with a staple or paper clip in the upper
left corner and are not to be placed in folders.
I. Traditional Anglo-American Philosophy of Language:
A. In "Philosophical Analysis," Weitz traces various meanings
of the term "analysis." He notes Russell’s use of "formal analysis"
and how Moore viewed analysis as a "form of definition" while the early Wittgenstein
used it as a "form of linguistic transformation," and he ends by observing
that some contemporary analysts use the term "linguistic analysis" or "ordinary
language analysis." State some of the common features in these uses
of "analysis" and indicate how they are distinct.
B. In "Philosophical Analysis," Weitz traces the emergence
of analysis and its final rejection. While he accepts Russell’s defense
of external relations, he rejects the verification principle of logical positivism.
State the point of Russell’s critique of external relations, and state why
analysis was eventually rejected.
II. The Early Wittgenstein: Tractatus
A. In the Tractatus Wittgenstein uses his picture theory
to connect language/propositions and reality/world. Making reference
to 1.1, 2.1-2.161 and other relevant passages, state Wittgenstein’s viewpoint
on these relations.
B. By his understanding of sense, Wittgenstein has set
a limit to what propositions are properly meaningful. Making reference
to 4.003, 4.022-4.024, and 4.461-4.464, state Wittgenstein’s position on
how the senselessness of tautologies and contradictions is distinct from
III. Verification and Empiricist Criteria:
Ayer’s Language, Truth and Logic
A. Ayer presents a modified verification principle.
State how Ayer’s verification principle determines when a sentence is a "genuine
empirical hypothesis" and why the truth-value of such synthetic propositions
is probabilistic, while the truth value of analytic propositions is certain.
B. Ayer distinguishes various types of propositions.
State how he distinguishes propositions that are about the world from ones
that are exclusively definitional and how he distinguishes between genuine
hypotheses and pseudo-hypotheses and indicate the implications of these distinctions
for metaphysical and for dogmatic assertions.
IV. The Later Wittgenstein: Philosophical
A. The later Wittgenstein develops a functional theory
of meaning, specifically in terms of the relation of language to action.
Making reference to 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, and 23, state Wittgenstein’s view of
B. The later Wittgenstein rejected a referential theory of meaning, especially
of one-to-one correspondence between words/names and things/objects.
Making reference to 23, 27, and 39-43, state Wittgenstein’s criticism of
this view of language.