Anscombe, G. Elizabeth M., and . The First Person

1981, In Samuel D. Guttenplan (ed.), Mind and Language. Oxford University Press 45-65.

Summary: In this paper, the author argues that the “I” that we often use to refer to ourselves, actually does not refer to an object, it does not refer to a non-physical mind, and it does not even refer to a physical body. Ascombe’s conclusion will be that the “I” fails to be a referring expression at all.

Comment: This can be used as secondary reading in a postgraduate course on philosophy of language. Otherwise, it can also be used as primary reading for a postgraduate course on philosophy of language focusing on indexicals.

Massimi, Michela, and . Structural Realism: A Neo-Kantian Perspective

2010, In Alisa Bokulich & Peter Bokulich (eds.), Scientific Structuralism. Springer Science+Business Media. pp. 1-23.

Introduction: Structural realism was born in the attempt to reach a compromise between a realist argument and an antirealist one, namely the ‘no miracle’ argument and the ‘pessimistic meta-induction’, respectively. In recent years, John Worrall has drawn attention to an epistemological version of structural realism, which he traces back to Henri Poincaré. French and Ladyman, on the other hand, have urged a metaphysical or ontic structural realism, which offers a ‘reconceptualisation of ontology, at the most basic metaphysical level, which effects a shift from objects to structures.’ French and Ladyman want to maintain the distance from neo-Kantianism and detach metaphysical structural realism from neo-Kantian epistemology so as to do justice to the realist’s demand for mind-independence. This manoeuvre raises, however, some difficulties that have been at the centre of a recent ongoing debate: can we really ‘dissolve’ entities into mathematical structures? How can we even conceive of structural relations without relata? In this paper the author offers a diagnosis of the current standoff within structural realism between the epistemological and the metaphysical variant, by drawing attention to some important assumptions underlying the structural realist programme, and to their philosophical sources. It is the heterogeneity of these sources – she suggests – that is mainly responsible for the current stand-off within structural realism.

Comment: In this paper the author gives an excellent overview of the philosophical sources of structural realism: Poincaré, Cassier and Russell. The paper also explains with clarity the Newman problem and reviews the Fresnel-Maxwell case. The chapter serves as a good introduction to the topic of Structural Realism. It serves as well as a good introduction to the rest of the chapters present in the same book. This reading is best suited for courses in philosophy of science.

Russell, Gillian, and Fara, Delia Graff. Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Language

2013, Routledge.

Abstract: Philosophy of language is the branch of philosophy that examines the nature of meaning, the relationship of language to reality, and the ways in which we use, learn, and understand language. This companion provides a comprehensive and up-to-date survey of the field, charting its key ideas and movements, and addressing contemporary research and enduring questions in the philosophy of language. Unique to this companion is clear coverage of research from the related disciplines of formal logic and linguistics, and discussion of the applications in metaphysics, epistemology, ethics and philosophy of mind. The book is divided into seven sections: Core Topics; Foundations of Semantics; Parts of Speech; Methodology; Logic for Philosophers of Language; Philosophy of Language for the Rest of Philosophy; and Historical Perspectives.

Comment: The first part of this book ('Core Topics') can be used as background reading for a general course in philosophy of language. The rest of the book includes more specialised articles, which can be used as background reading for specialized courses. Chapter 6, 'Philosophy of Language for the Rest of Philosophy', could be the core reading for a final section in a philosophy of language course focusing on the applicability of the philosophy of language for other areas of philosophy.