Fall 2020 - PHIL 344 D100

Topics in the Philosophy of Language (3)

Semantics: Frege to Kripke

Class Number: 3978

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 11:30 AM – 2:20 PM

  • Prerequisites:

    Either one of: PHIL 201 or 203; or both of PHIL 100W (or equivalent) and COGS 200.



An introduction to the major philosophic theories of language. Topics to be considered include the relationship between language and mind, language and the world, language and society. Students may repeat this course for further credit under a different topic.


Selected Topics: Semantics: Frege to Kripke

Philosophers have always known that the study of language is central to their endeavours. On a common account of what we do, the focus of our inquiry are concepts or meanings, that is the sort of thing words express. The philosophical study of language and its importance in the philosophical enterprise was revolutionized by the work of the German philosopher and mathematician Gottlob Frege in the late 19th century. His work inspired both an astounding flowering of a certain way of studying language (and reactions to it), and the philosophical tradition – that of analytic philosophy – which we find ourselves in. The study of language was at the very center of much of 20th century anglo-american philosophy and there was great deal of progress in our understanding of how language works. The work that, in many ways, marks the other end of this incredible flowering of the work on semantics that Frege initiated is Saul Kripke’s Naming and Necessity (1972).

Frege’s and Kripke’s work, and the legacy that connects them, continues to inform the way philosophy is done. To understand contemporary debates in ethics, epistemology, philosophy of mind and of science, feminist philosophy, etc. one often needs to have a solid grasp of the concepts and techniques developed in the 100 years following Frege’s seminal work. The principal aim of this course will be to give the students the basic grounding in this tradition.

We will start with Frege, and trace the development of the philosophy of language, mainly semantics but some pragmatics as well, to Kripke’s work (and a little bit beyond).


This course may be repeated for credit if the topic is different.


  • Midterm exam 20%
  • Paper: 5-6 pages 40%
  • Final exam 40%


Course delivery: remote, synchronous. Online presence is required during scheduled lecture time.



In order to complete this course, students must have access to a computer or other internet accessing device that permits streaming video, word processing and teleconferencing with Zoom.


All readings will be made available on Canvas.

Department Undergraduate Notes:

Thinking of a Philosophy Major or Minor? The Concentration in Law and Philosophy? The Certificate in Ethics? The Philosophy and Methodology of Science Certificate?
Contact the PHIL Advisor at philmgr@sfu.ca   More details on our website: SFU Philosophy

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in fall 2020 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).