Spring 2020 - COGS 300 D100

Selected Topics in Cognitive Science (3)

Foundations of Semantics

Class Number: 7715

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:

    60 credits.



An interdisciplinary exploration of recent work on some special topic in cognitive science (such as vision, reasoning, connectionism, etc.)


Combined with: PHIL 332

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.

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.


  • Short Written Assignments 6 x 10% 60%
  • Final 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.

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