For your final paper, you will chose among the following three topics:
In “Reference and Modality”, Quine observes that modal contexts are referentially opaque, and concludes from this that quantifying into such contexts is illegitimate. What is the argument? (Make sure to specify what referential opacity is.) Sketch and evaluate a potential strategy for responding to Quine’s argument. When answering the question, you may want to keep in mind which expressions are ‘rigid’ in the sense of Naming and Necessity.
In Naming and Necessity, Kripke claims that names are rigid designators. Explain what rigid designators are and why Kripke thinks that English proper names are among them. Does the claim that names are rigid designators require adopting what Quine (in “Reference and Modality”) calls ‘Aristotelian essentialism’? If not, why not? If so, do you think this gives us reason to reject the claim that names are rigid? Why or why not?
In Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language, Kripke makes the following observation: “The relation of meaning and intention to future action is normative, not descriptive”. What does this mean? What consequence does this have, according to Kripke, for the dispositional view? Can you think of an conception of meaning facts that can do justice to Kripke’s observation?
Your answers should take the form of a 5-7 page (1200-1600 words) paper. Remember to follow the guidelines set forth in the syllabus. Papers that do not follow these guidelines will not be accepted.
Your paper should be double-spaced, set in 12pt font. If you haven’t already, please take a look at Jim Pryor’s guidelines before starting to write.
The paper is due on
Friday, April 27 at 5pm Monday, May 7 at 11am.
Reading questions 4
Consider the following two claims:
The meaning of ‘Max Groening’ is given by the description: ‘The creator of The Simpsons’.
The referent of ‘Max Groening’ is fixed by the description: ‘The creator of The Simpsons’.
For each of these claims, answer the following question: Does Kripke think that it follows from this claim that, in a counterfactual situation in which The Simpsons was never created, Max Groening would not exist?
Reading questions 3
On p. 74 of Word and Object, Quine writes:
My point remains; for my point is then that another bilingual could have a semantic correlation incompatible with the first bilingual’s without deviating from the first bilingual in his speech dispositions within either language, except in his dispositions to translate.
What objection is Quine responding to? Briefly explain, in one or two paragraphs, Quine’s response to this objection. In explaining Quine’s response, you should give an example of two bilingual speakers with ‘incompatible semantic correlations’.
You can send me your answer in the body of an email, with ‘Reading questions 3’ as the subject. Alternatively, you can send this to me as a separate document, following the guidelines set forth in the syllabus.
Your answer to these questions are due on Monday at 10am.
UPDATE: The final version of your first paper is due on Wednesday, March 21st at 10am.
What, according to Geach, is the ‘radical flaw’ in Ascriptivism? Is this a problem for Hare’s analysis of the meaning of ‘good’?
In answering these questions you should first explain what Geach takes Ascriptivism to be, and explain his objection to it. You should then assess whether Hare’s view is subject to this objection. If not, you should explain why not. If so, you should sketch a response to Geach on Hare’s behalf.
Your answers should take the form of a
5 page paper 5-7 page paper. Because this paper will be sent to two of your peers for anonymous review, you must follow these guidelines: Remember:
The file should be named according to the guidelines set forth in the syllabus.
No identifying information should appear in the body of the paper.
Papers that do not follow these guidelines will not be accepted.
Your paper should be double-spaced, set in 12pt Times New Roman, with 1in margins. If you haven’t already, please take a look at Jim Pryor’s guidelines before starting to write.
The paper is due on Wednesday,
February 29, March 21st at 10am.
Reading questions 2
Please email me your answers to the following questions by Tuesday, 2/22 at 8pm:
Using as a model the ‘derivations’ of conversational implicatures that Grice provides in ‘Logic and Conversation’, explain why in the following conversation, it would be reasonable to infer that B did not like all of the talks:
A: I heard you went to a conference this weekend. How were the talks?
B: Some of the talks were good.
What is the difference between particularized and a generalized conversational implicatures? Give examples of each, and use them to illustrate how ‘nondetachability’ can be used to distinguish between the two kinds.
In §36 of the Investigations, Wittgenstein writes:
[W]e cannot specify any one bodily action which we call pointing to the shape (as opposed, for example, to the colour).
What role does this play in the argument to the effect that ‘you must have mastered a language-game in order to understand an ostensive definition’ (§33)?
In answering this question, you should first offer an argument, on behalf of Wittgenstein, for the conclusion that in order to be able to understand an ostensive definition, I must be able to attend to the object you intend to refer to. Then you should explain why Wittgenstein thinks that something absurd follows from this conclusion together with the claim quoted above.
This assignment is due on Monday, February 6, at 10am.
Reading question 1
Please email me your answer to the following question by Tuesday, 1/17 at 5pm:
According to the Tractarian conception of language, understanding a word is a matter of knowing what object it refers to. Give one reason Wittgenstein has for thinking this is false.
Focus on §§6-21.