lfilo1130  2019-2020  Louvain-la-Neuve

Note from June 29, 2020
Although we do not yet know how long the social distancing related to the Covid-19 pandemic will last, and regardless of the changes that had to be made in the evaluation of the June 2020 session in relation to what is provided for in this learning unit description, new learnig unit evaluation methods may still be adopted by the teachers; details of these methods have been - or will be - communicated to the students by the teachers, as soon as possible.
5 credits
30.0 h
Verdée Peter;
Main themes
This course offers an introduction to the philosophy of language and aims to provide an overview of the different aspects of language:
  • its nature: difference between human, animal and artificial language, the innate or acquired status of linguistic ability, the question of the origin of language
  • its relationship with reality: representation, expression, fiction, reference, truth
  • its relationship with thought
  • its relationship with action: speech acts
The fundamental concepts of the philosophy of language (i.e. reference, sense, meaning, truth, intentionality, syntax, semantics, pragmatics, ordinary/formal language, grammar) are introduced, explained and placed in their historical context.

At the end of this learning unit, the student is able to :

  • Understanding of the different movements, concepts and issues of the philosophy of language from a historical perspective.
  • Understanding of how the study of language falls into three groups: syntax, semantics and pragmatics.
  • Ability to align the questions posed by contemporary philosophy of language with the key topics of the history of philosophy.

The contribution of this Teaching Unit to the development and command of the skills and learning outcomes of the programme(s) can be accessed at the end of this sheet, in the section entitled “Programmes/courses offering this Teaching Unit”.
The course begins with a historical introduction to the philosophy of language where major themes are introduced in their historical context. Then we will study the following texts:
  1. Gottlob Frege, "Sense and reference"
  2. W. V. O. Quine, "Le mythe de la signification "
  3. Michael Dummett, "What do I know when I know a language?"
  4. Peter Strawson, "Context and meaning"
  5. David Kaplan, "Demonstratives. An essay on the semantics, logic, metaphysics and epistemology of demonstratives and other indexicals. "
  6. John Searle, "What is a speech act? "
  7. Selection of passages from the book "Philosophy of Language (and Mind)" written by François Recanati
Teaching methods
A few ex cathedra courses
Reading courses. Students prepare texts at home. A student presents the general structure of the text in 20 minutes and then discusses the subjects of the article in detail.
Evaluation methods

20% of the final grade: Active participation in class
80% of the final grade: An oral exam with a written preparation (which is organized one or a few days before the oral exam)


20% of the final grade: a written assignment (a 2-page reflection on a central question)
80% of the final grade: An oral exam with a written preparation (which is organized one or a few days before the oral exam)
  • Tous les textes et les slides seront disponibles sur Moodle
Teaching materials
  • Tous les textes et les slides seront disponibles sur Moodle
Faculty or entity

Programmes / formations proposant cette unité d'enseignement (UE)

Title of the programme
Certificat universitaire en philosophie (fondements)

Bachelor in Philosophy, Politics and Economics

Bachelor in Philosophy

Minor in Philosophy

Minor in Linguistics