This seminar will serve as an introduction to some fundamental questions in the philosophy of language, in the context of an extended exploration of current debates about epistemic and deontic modals, predicates of personal taste, moral vocabulary, and tense. In particular, we will compare contextualist, relativist, and expressivist theories of various expressions. Our goal for the academic term will be to understand exactly how each sort of theory may be defined, implemented, and defended. Absolutely no background in the philosophy of language is necessary for this seminar; we will gradually build familiarity with necessary tools and results over the course of the academic term. We will be reading work by David Lewis, Angelika Kratzer, Simon Blackburn, John MacFarlane, Kai von Fintel, and Andy Egan, among others, as well as papers by occasional visitors.
Requirements will include weekly readings and assignments in addition to a final term paper.