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How to teach philosophy of language today?

Journal: The Digital Scholar: Philosopher’s Lab (Vol.1, No. 4)

Publication Date:

Authors : ;

Page : 65-83

Keywords : philosophy of language; semantics; teaching;

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This paper presents a critical overview of the manual by O. Kulyk, followed by a broader discussion of the contemporary image of what is known as analytic philosophy of language and how this discipline could be taught in a university course of lectures. The author observes that Kulyk's course of lectures is historically oriented just like the majority of similar courses. He explores the reasons for this historical orientation and claims that it results from the fact that the biggest philosophical advances associated with philosophy of language are already in the past and the contemporary philosophy of language is too complicated to be discussed or even mentioned as part of an introductory or semi-advanced course. Moreover, the challenge of finding a balance between different educational objectives associated with such a course makes the historical perspective intuitively attractive. However, it argued that, despite its attractiveness, the historical perspective often fails to address the aspects in which philosophy of language remains relevant for any philosophical research. The author maintains that a problem-oriented course could deal with this shortcoming. He presents a number of topics that are central to the analytic philosophy of language and, at the same time, can be discussed without constant retreat to the classical texts of the main representatives of the analytic tradition. These topics are the object/metalanguage distinction, the three facets of meaning (assertive con-tent/presupposition/implicature), referential vs. quantificational expressions, direct reference vs. reference by description, structural ambiguity, and issues with compositionality. The author claims that such a problem-oriented approach to a course of lectures allows the instructor to develop better exercises and the students to acquire knowledge and skills that they would be able to use not only in their philosophical careers but also in other spheres of life.

Last modified: 2020-03-01 23:19:00