This is the web page for 24.251 Philosophy of Langauge given by Richard Holton at MIT Fall 2007. This page provides links to papers and other texts that will be useful. It will also provide pdf versions of the handouts and assignments. If you have suggestions for things that might be posted here, please let me know by emailing me at

NB: Most of the readings are in the Martinich volume (see below). Links to articles are provided mainly through the JSTOR database. To get them you will need to use a machine that is licenced to access that database. Any machine that is operating through an MIT server, or has MIT certificates, should work. However, the MIT library has configured access to JSTOR so that it has to go through VERA. If you have problems using the links provided here, access JSTOR on


I have ordered one books for the Coop:
A.P. Martinich (ed.) The Philosophy of Language Fifth edition (OUP, 2008!) [The fourth edition, 2001, will also do fine]

You will also need, at some point before week four:
Saul Kripke Naming and Necessity (Harvard University Press, 1980)


Four assessments:

Handouts and Readings

Section One: Sense & Reference, Names & Descriptions

Week One [Handout I] [Handout II] [Handout II*]

    Frege 'On Sense and Nominatum'

Week Two [Handout III]
    Russell, 'On Denoting'
    Russell, 'Descriptions'

Week Three
    Quine 'Two Dogmas of Empiricism' [Handout IV]
      Background Reading
      Michael Friedman Logical Positivism in The Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy
      Mauro Murzi Logical Positivism formerly in The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
      Hempel, 'Empiricist Criteria of Cognitive Significance'

Weeks Four & Five [Handout V] [Handout VI] [Handout VII]
    Kripke Naming and Necessity
    Putnam 'Meaning and Reference'

Week Six [Handout VIII] [Handout IX]

Week Seven[Handout X] [Handout XI]

Section Two: Pragmatics

Week Eight [Handout XII] [Handout XIII]

    Austin 'Performative Utterances'
    Grice 'Logic and Conversation'

Week Nine [Handout XIV] [Handout XV]

Week Ten [Handout XVI]
    Lewis 'Languages and Language'

Section Three: Propositional Attitudes

Week Eleven [Handout XVII] [Handout XVIII]

Week Twelve [Handout XIX]

Section Four: Truth

Week Thirteen [Handout XX] [Handout XXI]

Section Five: Rule Following

Week Fourteen

    Kripke 'On Rules and Private Language'
    Millikan 'Truth Rules, Hoverflies, and the Kripke-Wittgenstein Paradox'
    Holton 'Meaning and Rule Following'

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