Philosophy of Language - PHIL5760

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2024 to 2025.


Groups of marks or bursts of sound are just physical entities but, when produced by a writer or a speaker, they are used to point beyond themselves. This is the property of aboutness or intentionality. Other physical entities generally do not have this property. When you hear a sentence, you hear a burst of sound, but typically you also understand a meaning conveyed by the speaker. What is the meaning of a word – some weird entity that floats alongside the word, a set of rules associating the word with objects, an intention in the mind of the speaker….? What is the difference between what your words imply and what you convey in saying them? How are words used non-literally, how do hearers catch on to the meaning of a newly minted metaphor? How can we mean and convey so much when uttering a concise sentence? When someone says something offensive, is it part of its meaning that it is offensive, or just how it is used? In this module we shall try to find some answers to the questions listed above.


Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 40


Also available under code PL602 (Level 5)

Method of assessment

Essay (3,000 words) – 50%
Portfolio (1,500 words) – 40%
Seminar Performance – 10%

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List

Grice, H.P. (1989) Studies in the Ways of Words, London: Harvard University Press.
Kripke, S. (1981) Naming and Necessity, Oxford: Blackwell.
Martinich, A.P. and Sosa, D. (eds.) (2013) The Philosophy of Language (Sixth edition), Oxford; Oxford University Press.
Morris, M. (2007) An Introduction to Philosophy of Language, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Russell, G. and Graff Fara, D. (eds.) (2015) The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Language, London: Routledge.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module Level 6 students will be able to:

Demonstrate systematic understanding of both key and wider concepts relating to philosophical issues around meaning, referring, communicating, pragmatics, metaphor;
Engage critically with, and defend a position with respect to some of the central issues in philosophy of language, through their study of the relevant arguments;
Demonstrate the ability to accurately deploy established techniques of analysis and enquiry when reading of some of major philosophical texts in the field, and to refer to major philosophical texts to support their own position.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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