Faculty of Arts

PHIL 306

Language, Truth and Meaning

Please note: this is archived course information from 2021 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? How do we understand misspoken language? What is the line between nonsense and effective use of language?

We consider the fundamental links between truth and reality, and language use established by Gottlob Frege and Bertrand Russell either side of 1900, and some of the solutions and problems that their theories of reference, meaning, and truth have created for analytic philosophy. We then consider how important meaning and truth are to successful linguistic communication, surveying theories ranging from Russell’s deeply concrete & referential view, the deep scepticism about meaning and reference of Quine and Wittgenstein, to Grice’s highly contextual and socially-informed theories of implicature and communication.

(PHIL 101 offers useful background, but is not required.)


Coursework + exam 

Availability 2021

Semester 1


Lecturer(s) Dr Andrew Withy

Recommended Reading


Coursework and exam


PHIL 306: 15.0 points


30 points at Stage II in Philosophy


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