Faculty of Arts

PHIL 306

Language, Truth and Meaning

Please note: this is archived course information from 2020 for PHIL 306.


What is the connection between language and reality? Does language refer to reality directly or is the connection more indirect? How should we conceive of talk and thought about things that don’t exist in reality, including fictional characters? What is the extent of a priori knowledge — does it include fundamental truths of a metaphysical kind, as Kant thought, or is it confined to truths based on language and logic?

Issues of this kind were discussed at the dawn of what is now known as analytic philosophy, which began with the work of the logicians Gottlob Frege and Bertrand Russell in the late 1800s/early 1900s and have continued unabated into the twenty-first century.

This course considers some of the most important of these issues, including the nature of existence and non-existence; the linguistic turn in analytic philosophy; theories of reference, meaning and truth; the relation between meaning, necessity and the a priori; and the deep scepticism about meaning and reference found in the work of Quine and Wittgenstein.

(PHIL 101 offers useful background, but the course is intended to be accessible to students without a formal background in logic. The course is intended as a primer in the origins and subsequent development of analytic philosophy.)


Coursework + exam

Availability 2020

Not taught in 2020


Coordinator(s) Professor Fred Kroon



P. Martinich and David Sosa [ed.] (2012): Philosophy of Language (6th ed.), Oxford: Oxford University Press. (The main articles and chapters used in the course will also be placed on Talis.)

Recommended Reading


Coursework and exam


PHIL 306: 15.0 points


30 points at Stage II in Philosophy


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