PHIL 134: Philosophy of Language
UC San Diego, Winter 2005

Instructor: AgustĖn Rayo
Office: HSS 8061
Phone: (858) 822-2686
Office hours: Mondays and Wednesdays 4:00 - 5:00, or by appointment.

Meetings: Tuesdays and Thursdays 11:00-12:20
Room: WLH 2208

Course Website:


This course is an introduction to the philosophy of language. Although philosophy of language concerns a large number of topics, we will focus our attention on only two of them: meaning and reference.

Required Texts

Peter Ludlow, Readings in the Philosophy of Language, MIT Press, 1997.

David Lewis, Philosophical Papers, vol 1. Oxford, 1983

(Both of these books will be available for purchase at the UCSD Bookstore, but the latter may not arrive before January 5th.)

Tentative Schedule and Reading Assignments

Part A: Meaning

Part B: Reference

Course Requirements

30%   Homework Assignments
30%   Mid-term exam (due Monday February 14, 5:00 PM); word limit: 4000 words.
40%   Final exam (due Monday March 14, 2:30 PM); word limit: 3000 words.

Exams should be handed to me directly, or placed in my pigeon-hole on the 7th floor of the HSS tower. Late exams will not be accepted. Borderline cases will be decided on the basis of class participation.

  1. Homework Assignments

    There will be a homework assignment each week (see tentative schedule for due-dates). Homework assignments are only accessible through WebCT, and must be submitted using WebCT. Instructions for getting started are available at

    Late assignments will not be accepted.

  2. Exams

    Each exam will consist of a (take-home) essay. The final exam must contain no more than 3,000 words. Shorter essays are acceptable, but it is typically difficult to produce enough content to get a good grade without coming close to the word limit. Do not underestimate the difficulty of writing a good essay. The constraint on length makes it more difficult to get a good grade, not easier. This is not the sort project you should begin two or three nights before the due-date.

    Essays may be on any topic which engages with the material discussed in class. I encourage you to contact me beforehand to discuss possible topics and to talk about how your essay is going.

    Writing a good philosophy essay can very different from writing a good essay in other subjects. Please read James Pryor's ``Guidelines on Writing a Philosophy Paper'':

    Your essay should conform to these guidelines, and will be graded in accordance with the criteria listed in the section of the guidelines entitled `How You'll Be Graded'.

    Late assignments will not be accepted.

Important notes