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Abudu, Kenneth U., , . Language and Othering in African Contexts
2020, In: Imafidon, E. (ed.) Handbook of African Philosophy of Difference. Cham: Springer, 317-329
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Added by: Björn Freter, Contributed by: Björn Freter

Abstract: Postmodern and post-analytic understanding of African thought was primarily a shift from attempts to understand African thought using Western conceptual lenses to attempt to understand African framework of thought from the conceptual scheme of the people whose thought was being studied. This paradigm shift in the study of a people’s culture championed by such scholars as Ludwig Wittgenstein – notable in his shift from the pictorial theory of language to the game theory – had and continues to have very successful results in the attempts by sociologists, anthropologists, and philosophers to understand African (philosophical) thought. We recall, for instance, the insightful studies of Edward E. Evans-Pritchard, Peter Winch, and Robin Horton and the continuous records by ethnophilosophy. What stands out from this shift to conceptual scheme of a people as a means for unraveling their thought and ideas is the importance of language as a factor that cannot be ignored in understanding various aspects of the being, knowing, and acting of a people. This essay follows in this line of reasoning. It focuses on an underexplored area of the role of language in African thought: how language promotes or impedes positive and negative experiences of othering or alterity in African spaces. It argues that language is imperative to understanding the different levels of othering in African societies. It explores four areas where this is obvious: (1) the lack of competence to speak and communicate in the particular language spoken in the African community in which one dwells naturally in others such as person from the community in a manner that may be inimical to her well-being; (2) the ability to speak in a language of an African people to which one was not naturally born to promote positive relation with the self (the speaker) by the other (the community of selves) to the extent of blurring the gap between the self and the other; (3) the power of language to turn a complete stranger to a close friend when two African strangers meet in a foreign land such as in the Diaspora, a friendship formed solely on the basis of the sameness of language; and (4) the manner in which the other in an African place is conceptually represented to express the people’s understanding of and their responsibility toward the other in such a place. The essay concludes that language remains the richest source to explore and the fastest route to follow in the search for a people’s ideas about othering and difference.

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Adeel, M. Ashraf, , . Evolution of Quine’s Thinking on the Thesis of Underdetermination and Scott Soames’s Accusation of Paradoxicality
2015, HOPOS: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 5(1): 56-69.
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Added by: Laura Jimenez, Contributed by:

Abstract: Scott Soames argues that interpreted in the light of Quine’s holistic verificationism, Quine’s thesis of underdetermination leads to a contradiction. It is contended here that if we pay proper attention to the evolution of Quine’s thinking on the subject, particularly his criterion of theory individuation, Quine’s thesis of underdetermination escapes Soames’ charge of paradoxicality.

Comment: Good as a secondary reading for those who are confident with Quine’s thesis of underdetermination. Recomended for postgraduate courses in philosophy of science.

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Ahmed, Arif, , . Saul Kripke (Contemporary American Thinkers)
2007, Bloomsbury.
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Added by: Jamie Collin, Contributed by:

Introduction: Saul Kripke is one of the most important and original post-war analytic philosophers. His work has undeniably had a profound impact on the philosophy of language and the philosophy of mind. Yet his ideas are amongst the most challenging frequently encountered by students of philosophy. In this informative and accessible book, Arif Ahmed provides a clear and thorough account of Kripke’s philosophy, his major works and ideas, providing an ideal guide to the important and complex thought of this key philosopher. The book offers a detailed review of his two major works, Naming and Necessity and Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language, and explores how Kripke’s ideas often seem to overturn widely accepted views and even perceptions of common sense. Geared towards the specific requirements of students who need to reach a sound understanding of Kripke’s thought, the book provides a cogent and reliable survey of the nature and significance of Kripke’s contribution to philosophy. This is the ideal companion to the study of this most influential and challenging of philosophers.

Comment: This would be very useful in a course on philosophy of language, the work of Saul Kripke, a course on metaphysics which dealt with essences or the necessary a posteriori, or a course dealing with Wittgenstein’s views on rule-following and private languages. There are separate chapters on names, necessity, rule-following, and private languages; so a syllabus could make use of these individually depending on need, rather than the entire book. Suitable for undergraduates and graduates.

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Anderson, Luvell, , Lepore, Ernest (Ernie). Slurring Words
2013, Noûs 47 (1):25-48
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Thomas Hodgson

Abstract: Increasingly philosophers (and linguists) are turning their attention to slurs – a lexical category not much explored in the past. These are expressions that target groups on the basis of race (‘nigger’), nationality (‘kraut’), religion (‘kike’), gender (‘bitch’), sexual orientation (‘fag’), immigrant status (‘wetback’) and sundry other demographics. Slurs of a racial and ethnic variety have become particularly important not only for the sake of theorizing about their linguistic distribution adequately but also for the implications their usage has on other well?worn areas of interest. In ‘Reference, Inference, and The Semantics of Pejoratives,’Timothy Williamson discusses the merits of Inferentialism by looking at Dummett’s treatment of the slur ‘boche.’Mark Richard attempts to show that, contrary to a commitment to minimalism about truth, one is not conceptually confused in holding that slurring statements are not truth?apt discursive discourses, i.e. statements that are neither true nor false, but still represent the world to be a certain way. Others, like David Kaplan, argue that slurs force us to expand our very conception of meaning. Slurs also rub up against various other issues like descriptivism versus expressivism as well as the semantic/pragmatic divide (cf. Potts). Slurs’ effects on these issues make it difficult to ignore them and still give an adequate theory of language. In this paper, we will be particularly interested in the potential slurs carry to offend. Though xenophobes are not offended by slurs, others are – with some slurs more offensive than others.2 Calling an Asian businessman ‘suit’ will not rouse the same reaction as calling him ‘chink’. Even co?extensive slurs vary in intensity of contempt. Christopher Darden once branded ‘nigger’ the ‘filthiest, dirtiest, nastiest word in the English language’ (Kennedy, p. 23); we doubt anyone reacts as such to ‘negro,’ yet it too has become a slur. How can words fluctuate both in their status as slurs and in their power to offend? Targeted members themselves are not always offended by confrontations with slurs, for example, so?called appropriated or reclaimed uses (the camaraderie use of ‘nigger’ among African?Americans and ‘queer’ among homosexuals). These various data focus our investigation around three questions: Why are some confrontations with slurs offensive? Why do some impact audiences more forcefully than others? How do targeted members sometimes succeed in mollifying them? The consensus answer to the first question is that slurs, as a matter of convention, carry negative attitudes towards targeted groups. Since we know so much about how words communicate content, a brief canvass and evaluation of available explanatory alternatives is appropriate; in particular, do slurs offend audiences because of what they semantically express, presuppose, linguistically display (but not describe), or conventionally implicate? Or are their effects determined by negative tone – i.e. the subjective images they summon? These strategies – whether semantic and not – are committed to the view that slurs (or their uses) get across offensive content; they disagree only over the mechanism of implementation. Our overarching aim in this paper is to deflate all content?strategies: each, no matter how it is conceived, we will argue, is irrelevant to an understanding of how slurs function and why they offend. Our positive proposal, in brief, is that slurs are prohibited words not on account of any content they get across, but rather because of relevant edicts surrounding their prohibition. This raises more than a few pertinent questions we will address below, including how words become prohibited, what’s the relationship between their prohibition and their offense potential, and why is it sometimes appropriate to flout such prohibitions?

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Anscombe, G. E. M., , . The First Person
1975, In Samuel D. Guttenplan (ed.), Mind and Language. Oxford University Press. pp. 45-65.
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Added by: Anne-Marie McCallion, Contributed by:

Introduction: Descartes and St Augustine share not only the argument Cogtto ergo sum – in Augustine Si fallor, sum (De Civitate Dei, XI, 26) – but also the corollary argument claiming to prove that the mind (Augustine) or, as Descartes puts it, this I, is not any kind of body. “I could suppose I had no body,” wrote Descartes, “but not that I was not”, and inferred that “this I” is not a body. Augustine says “The mind knows itself to think”, and “it knows its own substance”: hence “it is certain of being that alone, which alone it is certain of being” (De Trinitate, Book XI. Augustine is not here explicitly offering an argument in the first person, as Descartes is. The first-person character of Descartes’ argument means that each person must administer it to himself in the first person; and the assent to St Augustine’s various propositions will equally be made, if at all, by appropriating them in the first person. In these writers there is the assumption that when one says “I” or “the mind”, one is naming something such that the knowledge of its existence, which is a knowledge of itself as thinking in all the various modes, determines what it is that is known to exist.

Comment: This text is best suited to more advanced readers. Anscombe shows that ‘I’ is not a referring expression by taking the arguments to this effect to their logical conclusions, thus demonstrating their absurdity. She then moves on, in light of this, to explore the relationship between our command of the first person and self-consciousness – thus demonstrating the pragmatic role of ‘I’. The text is quite dense and some knowledge of arguments to the effect that ‘I’ is a referring expression (as well as the common issues with these) is required. This text would be suitable for advanced courses on the philosophy of language, philosophy of mind or 20th century analytic philosophy.

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Anscombe, G. Elizabeth M., , . The First Person
1981, In Samuel D. Guttenplan (ed.), Mind and Language. Oxford University Press 45-65.
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Added by: Giada Fratantonio, Contributed by:

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.

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Antony, Louise, , . Thinking
2009, In Brian McLaughlin, Ansgar Beckermann & Sven Walter (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Mind. Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by:

Abstract: Human language is not the only naturally occurring symbol system. There are many animals other than human beings that communicate by means of signs or signals; vervet monkeys, for example, have specialized warning cries for different kinds of predators. And some animal-communication systems even have a rudimentary syntax: the dances performed by certain honey bees have structural elements that tell other bees the direction and distance from the hive of a nectar source. But what’s distinctive of human language – and the feature that Descartes was highlighting – is that the syntax of human language permits us to take parts of signs and recombine them with parts of other signs.

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Barnes, Elizabeth, , . Arguments Against Metaphysical Indeterminacy and Vagueness
2010, Philosophy Compass 5(11): 953-964.
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Added by: Emily Paul, Contributed by:

Abstract: In this paper, I’ll examine some of the major arguments against metaphysical indeterminacy and vagueness. Metaphysical accounts of indeterminacy and vagueness have been decidedly unpopular, and this paper examines some of the major reasons for that unpopularity.

Comment: A really useful overview of the alleged problem of metaphysical indeterminacy, and the main arguments against it. Written extremely clearly, but dealing with complex subject matter, so suitable for either an advanced undergraduate or masters class (or a further reading in an intermediate undergraduate class).

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Bezuidenhout, Anne, , . Truth-Conditional Pragmatics
2002, Philosophical Perspectives 16:105-134.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Thomas Hodgson

Abstract: The mainstream view in philosophy of language is that sentence meaning determines truth-conditions. A corollary is that the truth or falsity of an utterance depends only on what words mean and how the world is arranged. Although several prominent philosophers (Searle, Travis, Recanati, Moravcsik) have challenged this view, it has proven hard to dislodge. The alternative view holds that meaning underdetermines truth-conditions. What is expressed by the utterance of a sentence in a context goes beyond what is encoded in the sentence itself. Truth-conditional content depends on an indefinite number of unstated background assumptions, not all of which can be made explicit. A change in background assumptions can change truth-conditions, even bracketing disambiguation and reference assignment. That is, even after disambiguating any ambiguous words in a sentence and assigning semantic values to any indexical expressions in the sentence, truth-conditions may vary with variations in the background.

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Borg, Emma, , . Minimalism versus Contextualism in Semantics
2007, In Gerhard Preyer & Georg Peter (eds.), Context-Sensitivity and Semantic Minimalism: New Essays on Semantics and Pragmatics. Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Thomas Hodgson

Abstract: In *Insensitive Semantics*, Herman Cappelen and Ernie Lepore argue for a minimalist approach to semantics and against the currently more popular contextualist stance. I agree with this overall outlook, but will suggest in this chapter that their way of framing the debate between these two semantic programmes actually serves to obscure some key issues. Specifically, I will argue that the version of radical contextualism they give is not radical enough, while their version of semantic minimalism is not minimal enough.

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Borg, Emma, , . On three theories of implicature: default theory, relevance and minimalism
2009, The International Review of Pragmatics, 1 (1): 63-83.
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Added by: Jamie Collin, Contributed by:

Abstract: Grice’s distinction between what is said by a sentence and what is implicated by an utterance of it is both extremely familiar and almost universally accepted. However, in recent literature, the precise account he offered of implicature recovery has been questioned and alternative accounts have emerged. In this paper, I examine three such alternative accounts. My main aim is to show that the two most popular accounts in the current literature (the default inference view and the relevance theoretic approach) still face signifi cant problems. I will then conclude by suggesting that an alternative account, emerging from semantic minimalism, is best placed to accommodate Grice’s distinction.

Comment: This would be useful in a course on the philosophy of language, particularly with regard to pragmatics and implicature. The paper is particularly useful for teaching, as it provides a clear overview of three influential and important theories of implicature; so serves as a good survey text, as well as an original piece of argumentation.

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Bradley, F. H., , . Appearance and Reality
1893, Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Peter Jones

Publisher’s Note: Appearance and Reality: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Physics addresses quantum mechanics and relativity and their philosophical implications, focusing on whether these theories of modern physics can help us know nature as it really is, or only as it appears to us. The author clearly explains the foundational concepts and principles of both quantum mechanics and relativity and then uses them to argue that we can know more than mere appearances, and that we can know to some extent the way things really are. He argues that modern physics gives us reason to believe that we can know some things about the objective, real world, but he also acknowledges that we cannot know everything, which results in a position he calls “realistic realism.” This book is not a survey of possible philosophical interpretations of modern physics, nor does it leap from a caricature of the physics to some wildly alarming metaphysics. Instead, it is careful with the physics and true to the evidence in arriving at its own realistic conclusions. It presents the physics without mathematics, and makes extensive use of diagrams and analogies to explain important ideas. Engaging and accessible, Appearance and Reality serves as an ideal introduction for anyone interested in the intersection of philosophy and physics, including students in philosophy of physics and philosophy of science courses.

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Brown, Jessica, , . Contextualism and warranted assertibility manoeuvres
2006, Philosophical Studies 130 (3): 407-435.
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Added by: Jie Gao, Contributed by:

Abstract: Contextualists such as Cohen and DeRose claim that the truth conditions of knowledge attributions vary contextually, in particular that the strength of epistemic position required for one to be truly ascribed knowledge depends on features of the attributor’s context. Contextualists support their view by appeal to our intuitions about when it’s correct (or incorrect) to ascribe knowledge. Someone might argue that some of these intuitions merely reflect when it is conversationally appropriate to ascribe knowledge, not when knowledge is truly ascribed, and so try to accommodate these intuitions even on an invariantist view. DeRose (Blackwell Guide to Epistemology, 1998; Philosophical Review, 2002) argues that any such ‘warranted assertibility manoeuvre’, or ‘WAM’, against contextualism is unlikely to succeed. Here, I argue that his objections to a WAM against contextualism are not persuasive and offer a pragmatic account of the data about ascriptions of knowledge.

Comment: This paper defends the warranted assertibility manoeuvres, a prominent pragmatic criticism to epistemic contextualism. It is useful as a central or a further reading material for teachings on contextualism in an upper-level undergraduate course on epistemology.

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Camp, Elisabeth, , . Two Varieties of Literary Imagination: Metaphor, Fiction, and Thought Experiments
2009, Midwest Studies in Philosophy 33 (1):107-130.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Abstract: Recently, philosophers have discovered that they have a lot to learn from, or at least to ponder about, fiction. Many metaphysicians are attracted to fiction as a model for our talk about purported objects and properties, such as numbers, morality, and possible worlds, without embracing a robust Platonist ontology. In addition, a growing group of philosophers of mind are interested in the implications of our engagement with fiction for our understanding of the mind and emotions: If I don’t believe that Anna Karenina exists, can I really pity her, or hope or desire that she extricate herself from her tragic situation? And why is there no ‘morality fiction,’ analogous to science fiction? I suspect that philosophers have been especially comfortable thinking about fiction because it seems, at least prima facie, to employ the imagination in a way that conforms to a standard model of the mind. Specifically, contemporary philosophers tend to think of imagination as a form of mental pretense. Mental pretense can take two main forms: a cognitive attitude of supposing a set of propositions to be true (make-believe) or else an experiential state of imaging a scenario as if it were before one (imaging). Much of our pretense intertwines the cognitive and experiential modalities, of course. But both share a crucial common feature: all of one’s imaginative effort is invested in pretending that certain contents obtain. In this sense, we can understand imagination as the ‘offline’ simulation of actual beliefs and perceptions (and perhaps other attitudes as well), where we analyze these in the normal way, as states individuated by their attitude and representational content. While I share the burgeoning interest in fiction, I want to suggest that we also have a lot to learn from poetry, and in particular from poetic metaphor. I will argue..

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Carston, Robyn, , . Linguistic communication and the semantics/pragmatics distinction
2008, Synthese 165 (3):321-345.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Thomas Hodgson

Abstract: Most people working on linguistic meaning or communication assume that semantics and pragmatics are distinct domains, yet there is still little consensus on how the distinction is to be drawn. The position defended in this paper is that the semantics/pragmatics distinction holds between encoded linguistic meaning and speaker meaning. Two other ‘minimalist’ positions on semantics are explored and found wanting: Kent Bach’s view that there is a narrow semantic notion of context which is responsible for providing semantic values for a small number of indexicals, and Herman Cappelen and Ernie Lepore’s view that semantics includes the provision of values for all indexicals, even though these depend on the speaker’s communicative intentions. Finally, some implications are considered for the favoured semantics/pragmatics distinction of the fact that there are linguistic elements which do not contribute to truth-conditional content but rather provide guidance on pragmatic inference

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