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An introduction to the philosophy of language

posted on 2023-06-08, 13:55 authored by Michael Morris
This book is a critical introduction to the central issues of the philosophy of language. Each chapter focusses on one or two texts which have had a seminal influence on work in the subject, and uses these as a way of approaching both the central topics and the various traditions of dealing with them. Texts include classic writings by Frege, Russell, Kripke, Quine, Davidson, Austin, Grice and Wittgenstein. Theoretical jargon is kept to a minimum and is fully explained whenever it is introduced. The range of topics covered includes sense and reference, definite descriptions, proper names, natural-kind terms, de re and de dicto necessity, propositional attitudes, truth-theoretical approaches to meaning, radical interpretation, indeterminacy of translation, speech acts, intentional theories of meaning, and scepticism about meaning. The book will be invaluable to students and to all readers who are interested in the nature of linguistic meaning


Publication status

  • Published


Cambridge University Press



Place of publication

New York




Cambridge introductions to philosophy

Department affiliated with

  • Philosophy Publications


This book is a critical history of analytic philosophy of language, as well as being something which students can use. (It is thus comparable in aim to Scott Soamess two-volume work, Philosophical Analysis in the Twentieth Century.) Each chapter is a study of an article, or of a portion of a book, which has had a seminal influence on the development of contemporary philosophy of language. In addition to providing a fresh diagnosis of the fundamental themes and motivations which have shaped the development of the tradition, the book has something new to say about most of its topics. In particular: it shows how Freges notion of sense may be developed both descriptively and non-descriptively; it offers a new analysis and critique of Quine's approach to intensionality, both in modality and in propositional attitudes, which subverts much that is standardly assumed in contemporary approaches to these issues; it provides a fresh account of the innovative contribution made by Davidson's approach to language; it offers an analysis of Quine's thesis of the indeterminacy of translation which links it clearly to the arguments of `Two Dogmas of Empiricism'; and it offers a new interpretation and critique of Kripke's scepticism about rule-following.

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