Spring 2020 - PHIL 332 D100

Selected Topics (3)

Foundations of Semantics

Class Number: 7805

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 2:30 PM – 4:20 PM
    SECB 1010, Burnaby

    Th 2:30 PM – 3:20 PM
    SECB 1012, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 17, 2020
    3:30 PM – 6:30 PM
    RCB 8100, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    As stated by department at time of offering.



May be repeated for credit.


Selected Topics: Foundations of Semantics

Prerequisites: 60 credits including at least one Philosophy course. Students who have not previously taken a logic course (e.g. PHIL 110 or MACM 101) may find this course highly demanding.

[Note: this course is to be taught concurrently with COGS 300.]

In this course, we contrast different approaches to the semantics of natural language. In particular, we will consider:

· Truth conditional theories of meaning

· “Use” theories of meaning

· Non-cognitivism in ethics

· Scepticism about semantic theory

There will be a focus throughout on issues in philosophical logic. Many of the readings will be classic works in the philosophy of language and logic; however, we assume throughout that the philosophy of language should be informed by research in linguistics and psychology.

We will begin the course with a brief review of some topics in propositional and first-order logic. Students who have not previously taken a logic course (e.g. PHIL 110 or MACM 101) may find this course highly demanding.


PHIL 332 may be repeated for credit if the topic is different. 
Important: Students that took the 2018 Spring offering of PHIL 332 or COGS 300 (topic: Foundations of Semantics) can not take this course for further credit; if enrolled, it will be considered a repeat.


  • Short Written Assignments 6 x 10% 60%
  • Final - see note below 40%


NOTE: Due to Covid-19 pandemic, here is the revised grading scheme: 

Short, written assignments: 4 x 10% = 40%.
Contributions to online discussions: 20%.
Online, at-home final exam: 40%





I will circulate readings using Canvas as necessary. Readings will be relatively short, but should be read in detail and with care.

Students wishing to do some advanced reading should consider Paul Elbourne’s Meaning: A Slim Guide to Semantics – but this is not necessary.

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