This is a course about the relationship between metaphysics and the philosophy of language and mind – the relationship between the study of reality, and the study of how we think and speak about it. The course roughly divides into two parts. In the first part we will focus on debates about the role language has to play in ontology – the study of what exists. In the second part we will focus on the ‘non-representationalist’ movement in 20th and 21st Century philosophy: this embodies the idea that some kinds of language don’t represent the world at all, and that this undermines metaphysical inquiry in those areas.
The goal of this course is to introduce students to cutting edge work in the intersection of metaphysics and language/mind, and get students not only learning about the debates going on but engage in them, in some cases with the authors of the papers discussed.
Students who complete this course will have a broad and deep understanding of some contemporary debates in metaphysics and the philosophy of language and mind, a good sense of where crucial points of disagreement lie within these debates, and the ability to analyse and critically evaluate the most important philosophical arguments in these debates.
Assessment is via a single essay of max 2000 words for MA students and 4000 words for PhD students. Good participation in class may merit a higher grade in borderline cases.