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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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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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Dembroff, Robin, , Wodak, Daniel. He/She/They/Ze
2018, Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy, 5(14): 371 – 406.
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Added by: Andrea Blomqvist, Contributed by: Rory Wilson

Abstract: In this paper, we defend two main claims. The first is a moderate claim: we have a negative duty to not use binary gender-specific pronouns he or she to refer to genderqueer individuals. We defend this with an argument by analogy. It was gravely wrong for Mark Latham to refer to Catherine McGregor, a transgender woman, using the pronoun he; we argue that such cases of misgendering are morally analogous to referring to Angel Haze, who identifies as genderqueer, as he or she. The second is a radical claim: we have a negative duty to not use any gender-specific pronouns to refer to anyone, regardless of their gender identity. We offer three arguments in favor of this claim (which appeal to concerns about inegalitarianism and risk, invasions of privacy, and reinforcing essentialist ideologies). We also show why the radical claim is compatible with the moderate claim. Before concluding, we examine common concerns about incorporating either they or a neologism such as ze as a third-person singular gender-neutral pronoun. These concerns, we argue, do not provide sufficient reason to reject either the moderate or radical claim.

Comment: This text can be used as a companion piece to other texts on the metaphysics of gender or to introduce students to transgender / nonbinary identities. Dembroff and Wodak give a good overview of the importance of pronouns as well as the contemporary pronoun debate between they and ze for those with little to no prior background. This paper is good for debate over its radical claim.

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Edgington, Dorothy, , . On Conditionals
1995, Mind 104(414): 235-329.
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Added by: Emily Paul, Contributed by: Helen De Cruz

Summary: Examines the theory of conditionals and whether it’s possible to have a unified theory of them.

Comment: Great core text as there are many important discussion points here, and Edginton uses lots of helpful examples. Could set students the task of coming up with their own conditionals, and analysing these in the would/will sense. This definitely requires a background in beginner’s logic.

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Gluer, Kathrin, , . Donald Davidson: A short Introduction
2014, Oxford University Press USA
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Added by: Giada Fratantonio, Contributed by:

Publisher’s Note: Donald Davidson was one of the 20th Century’s deepest analytic thinkers. He developed a systematic picture of the human mind and its relation to the world, an original and sustained vision that exerted a shaping influence well beyond analytic philosophy of mind and language. At its center is an idea of minded creatures as essentially rational animals: Rational animals can be interpreted, their behavior can be understood, and the contents of their thoughts are, in principle, open to others. The combination of a rigorous analytic stance with aspects of humanism so distinctive of Davidsonian thought finds its maybe most characteristic expression when this central idea is brought to bear on the relation of the mental to the physical: Davidson defended the irreducibility of its rational nature while acknowledging that the mental is ultimately determined by the physical. Davidson made contributions of lasting importance to a wide range of topics – from general theory of meaning and content over formal semantics, the theories of truth, explanation, and action, to metaphysics and epistemology. His writings almost entirely consist of short, elegant, and often witty papers. These dense and thematically tightly interwoven essays present a profound challenge to the reader. This book provides a concise, systematic introduction to all the main elements of Davidson’s philosophy. It places the theory of meaning and content at the very center of his thought. By using interpretation, and the interpreter, as key ideas it clearly brings out the underlying structure and unified nature of Davidson’s work. Kathrin Gluer carefully outlines his principal claims and arguments, and discusses them in some detail. The book thus makes Davidson’s thought accessible in its genuine depth, and acquaints the reader with the main lines of discussion surrounding it.

Comment: Can be used as brief introduction into the main thoughts of Donald Davidon’s philosophy.
[This is a stub entry. Please add your comments to help us expand it]

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Graff Fara, Delia, , . Shifting Sands: An Interest-Relative Theory of Vagueness
2000, Philosophical Topics 28(1): 45-81.
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Added by: Emily Paul, Contributed by:

Summary: I propose that the meanings of vague expressions render the truth conditions of utterances of sentences containing them sensitive to our interests. For example, ‘expensive’ is analyzed as meaning ‘costs a lot’, which in turn is analyzed as meaning ‘costs significantly greater than the norm’. Whether a difference is a significant difference depends on what our interests are. Appeal to the proposal is shown to provide an attractive resolution of the sorites paradox that is compatible with classical logic and semantics.

Comment: An important paper to use for an advanced UG Philosophy of Language/Metaphysics course. Would definitely need to be a core reading and be taught in a lecture first, as there are many important things going on here.

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Grover, Dorothy, Joseph Kamp, Nuel Belnap. A Prosentential Theory of Truth
1975, Philosophical Studies 27(1): 73-125.
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Added by: Jamie Collin, Contributed by:

Summary: Classic presentation of the prosentential theory of truth: an important, though minority, deflationist account of truth. Prosententialists take ‘It is true that’ to be a prosentence forming operator that anaphorically picks out content from claims made further back in the anaphoric chain (in the same way that pronouns such as ‘he’, ‘she’ and ‘it’ anaphorically pick out referents from nouns further back in the anaphoric chain).

Comment: Good as a primary reading on a course on truth, philosophy of language, or on deflationism more generally. Any course that treats deflationary accounts of truth in any detail would deal with the prosentential theory of truth, and this is one of the most historically important presentations of that theory. Would be best used in advanced undergraduate or graduate courses.

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Grover, Dorothy, , . Inheritors and Paradox
1977, Journal of Philosophy 74(10): 590-604
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Added by: Jamie Collin, Contributed by:

Summary: Classic account of the way in which the prosentential theory of truth handles the liar paradox. Prosententialists take ‘It is true that’ to be a prosentence forming operator that anaphorically picks out content from claims made further back in the anaphoric chain (in the same way that pronouns such as ‘he’, ‘she’ and ‘it’ anaphorically pick out referents from nouns further back in the anaphoric chain). Liar sentences have no proposition-stating antecedents in the anaphoric chain. As a result, the problem of the liar does not arise.

Comment: Good as a primary reading on a course on truth, paradox, philosophy of language, or on deflationism more generally. Any course that treats deflationary accounts of truth in any detail would deal with the prosentential theory of truth, and this is one of the most historically important presentations of that theory. This is particularly useful in courses on paradox, as it is a rare articulation of the idea that the liar paradox is not “deep” and does not require large revisions to classical logic. Would be best used in advanced undergraduate or graduate courses.

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Gupta, Anil, , . A Critique of Deflationism
1993, Philosophical Topics 21: 57-81.
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Added by: Jamie Collin, Contributed by:

Summary: Argues against deflationary conceptions of truth. Deflationism provides a descriptive account of the term ‘true’, but these claims, argues Gupta, are both very strong and problematic.

Comment: This would be very useful in a course on the nature of truth, or any course in which deflationary conceptions of truth are relevant. The paper is not technical and provides a good account of deflationism about truth. This would be suitable for undergraduates or graduates.

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Gupta, Anil, , . Do the Paradoxes Pose a Special Problem for Deflationism?
2006, In J. C. Beall and Bradley Armour-Garb (eds.), Deflationism and Paradox, Oxford University Press. 133-147.
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Added by: Jamie Collin, Contributed by:

Summary: The Liar and other semantic paradoxes pose a difficult problem for all theories of truth. Any theory that aims to improve our understanding of the concept of truth must, when fully stated, include an account of the paradoxes. Not only deflationism but also its competitors – for instance, correspondence and coherence – must ultimately address the paradoxes. The question that concerns me in this essay is whether it is especially urgent for deflationism to do so. Are the paradoxes a special threat, a special problem, for deflationism? I will argue that they are not.1 Deflationists can leave the paradoxes to the specialists to puzzle over. It is the specialists who will be well served if they keep some insights of deflationism firmly in view.

Comment: This would be useful in a course on the nature of truth, or on paradoxes. This is slightly more specialised than ‘A Critique of Deflationism‘ but still good reading material for an advanced undergraduate or graduate course. The paper is not easy, but clear and not very technical.

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Keefe, Rosanna, , . Theories of Vagueness
2000, Cambridge University Press.
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Added by: Berta Grimau, Contributed by:

Publisher’s Note: Most expressions in natural language are vague. But what is the best semantic treatment of terms like ‘heap’, ‘red’ and ‘child’? And what is the logic of arguments involving this kind of vague expression? These questions are receiving increasing philosophical attention, and in this timely book Rosanna Keefe explores the questions of what we should want from an account of vagueness and how we should assess rival theories. Her discussion ranges widely and comprehensively over the main theories of vagueness and their supporting arguments, and she offers a powerful and original defence of a form of supervaluationism, a theory that requires almost no deviation from standard logic yet can accommodate the lack of sharp boundaries to vague predicates and deal with the paradoxes of vagueness in a methodologically satisfying way. Her study will be of particular interest to readers in philosophy of language and of mind, philosophical logic, epistemology and metaphysics.

Comment: This book could be used in a philosophy of logic or a philosophy of language course which had a section on vagueness (either at undergraduate or postgraduate level). The first chapter provides a good main reading for such purpose. The book can also be used in a course focused on vagueness exclusively. The technical discussion is minimized throughout and presupposes only some familiarity with elementary logic.

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Marti, Luisa, , . Unarticulated constituents revisited
2006, Linguistics and Philosophy 29 (2):135 – 166.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Thomas Hodgson

Abstract: An important debate in the current literature is whether ‘all truth-conditional effects of extra-linguistic context can be traced to [a variable at; LM] logical form’ (Stanley, ‘Context and Logical Form’, Linguistics and Philosophy, 23 (2000) 391). That is, according to Stanley, the only truth-conditional effects that extra-linguistic context has are localizable in (potentially silent) variable-denoting pronouns or pronoun-like items, which are represented in the syntax/at logical form (pure indexicals like I or today are put aside in this discussion). According to Recanati (‘Unarticulated Constituents’, Linguistics and Philosophy, 25 (2002) 299), extra-linguistic context can have additional truth-conditional effects, in the form of optional pragmatic processes like ‘free enrichment’. This paper shows that Recanati’s position is not warranted, since there is an alternative line of analysis that obviates the need to assume free enrichment. In the alternative analysis, we need Stanley’s variables, but we need to give them the freedom to be or not to be generated in the syntax/present at logical form, a kind of optionality that has nothing to do with the pragmatics-related optionality of free enrichment.

Comment: Probably won’t make sense without looking at Recanati and Perry’s work
[This is a stub entry. Please add your comments to help us expand it]

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Millikan, Ruth, , . Biosemantics
1989, Journal of Philosophy 86 (1989): 281-97.
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Added by: Jamie Collin, Contributed by: Nora Heinzelmann

Summary: The term ‘biosemantics’ has usually been applied only to the theory of mental representation. This article first characterizes a more general class of theories called ‘teleological theories of mental content’ of which biosemantics is an example. Then it discusses the details that distinguish biosemantics from other naturalistic teleological theories. Naturalistic theories of mental representation attempt to explain, in terms designed to fit within the natural sciences, what it is about a mental representation that makes it represent something. Frequently these theories have been classified as either picture theories, causal or covariation theories, information theories, functionalist or causal-role theories, or teleological theories, the assumption being that these various categories are side by side with one another.

Comment: This would be useful in a course in philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, philosophy of biology, or any course in which naturalistic accounts of mental content are relevant. The paper makes use of memorable illustrative examples, which will help to convey its central ideas to students, and addresses objections to the position developed by Millikan. Suitable for undergraduate as well as graduate courses.

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Millikan, Ruth, , . In Defense of Proper Functions
1989, Philosophy of Science, 56 (1989): 288-302.
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Added by: Jamie Collin, Contributed by:

Abstract: I defend the historical definition of “function” originally given in my Language, Thought and Other Biological Categories (1984a). The definition was not offered in the spirit of conceptual analysis but is more akin to a theoretical definition of “function”. A major theme is that nonhistorical analyses of “function” fail to deal adequately with items that are not capable of performing their functions.

Comment: This paper is something of a classic, and would be useful in a course on philosophy of science, philosophy of biology, philosophy of mind or philosophy of language. Though the paper is not technical, it is not easy and would be most suitable for advanced undergraduate or graduate courses. The paper also functions as a good example of an important attempt to naturalise a central normative notion.

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Neander, Karen, , . Teleological Theories of Mental Content
2012, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
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Added by: Jamie Collin, Contributed by:

Abstract: Teleological theories of mental content try to explain the contents of mental representations by appealing to a teleological notion of function. Take, for example, the thought that blossoms are forming. On a representational theory of thought, this thought involves a representation of blossoms forming. A theory of content aims among other things to tell us why this representation has that content; it aims to say why it is a thought about blossoms forming rather than about the sun shining or pigs flying or nothing at all. In general, a theory of content tries to say why a mental representation counts as representing what it represents.

According to teleological theories of content, what a representation represents depends on the functions of the systems that produce or use the representation. The relevant notion of function is said to be the one that is used in biology and neurobiology in attributing functions to components of organisms (as in “the function of the pineal gland is secreting melatonin” and “the function of brain area MT is processing information about motion”). Proponents of teleological theories of content generally understand such functions to be what the thing with the function was selected for, either by ordinary natural selection or by some other natural process of selection.

Comment: This would be useful in a course in philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, philosophy of biology, or any course in which naturalistic accounts of mental content are relevant. The entry is detailed and quite lengthy. It also serves as an excellent source of further reading. Suitable for advanced undergraduates and graduates.

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