PHIL 345 - Language and Mind
Winter 2016, Section 001
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is (see other Sections below)
Subject: Philosophy (PHIL)
Department: LSA Philosophy
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Requirements & Distribution:
Enforced Prerequisites:
One philosophy course with at least a C-.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:


This course will address questions about human language, human thought, and the relationship between the two. These questions include:

  • How is linguistic communication as rich and efficient as it is? How, for example, do word meanings combine to create sentence meanings? How do speakers exploit their contexts to go beyond expressing sentence meanings, as they do when they speak metaphorically, or sarcastically?
  • Our thoughts make use of concepts. But what are concepts? Are they ‘in the head’, or out in the world? Are they innate, or acquired on the basis of empirical evidence?
  • Natural languages are hugely complex. Given that complexity, how is it that we human beings acquire linguistic competence so rapidly and so well?
  • Do the languages we speak constrain the thoughts we can think? If so, what kinds of constraints are we talking about here?

Over the course of the term, we’ll become familiar with a range of conceptual tools and theories that philosophers of language and mind have developed to address these questions. We’ll also draw on work from related fields, such as linguistics, psychology, and cognitive science, and consider the methods used in each field to address our central questions.

The course has two main objectives: first, to provide a broad overview of some of the main questions in contemporary philosophy of language and mind, and second, to help students develop their critical reasoning and argumentative writing skills.

Course Requirements:

Students will be assessed on the basis of active participation in discussion, two short argumentative papers, and two exams (a midterm and a final).

Intended Audience:

This course is intended for students who have completed at least one philosophy course, or have obtained permission of the instructor.

Class Format:

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PHIL 345 - Language and Mind
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
 In Person
TuTh 2:30PM - 4:00PM
002 (DIS)
 In Person
F 11:00AM - 12:00PM
003 (DIS)
 In Person
F 12:00PM - 1:00PM
004 (DIS)
 In Person
Tu 4:00PM - 5:00PM

Textbooks/Other Materials

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Syllabi are available to current LSA students. IMPORTANT: These syllabi are provided to give students a general idea about the courses, as offered by LSA departments and programs in prior academic terms. The syllabi do not necessarily reflect the assignments, sequence of course materials, and/or course expectations that the faculty and departments/programs have for these same courses in the current and/or future terms.

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