Phil 445: Advanced Philosophy of Language

Announcements, Readings, and Lecture Notes

The front webpage for the course is at

Here are Zoom links for the course meetings and for Professor Pryor’s office hours.

The Sakai webpage for the course is at Currently, that mostly contains pointers back to this website.

Prof Pryor’s office hours are on Mondays and Wednesdays 11:30-12:30. His email is


Here are some guidelines about philosophical writing. See the front webpage for information about extensions and how you’ll be graded.


These are in reverse-order, so the newest posts will always be at the top. The dates are when the post was first made.

Readings are in a restricted part of this site. The username and password will be announced to participants at the start of class.

Mon Nov 29

More about the final session, on Fri Dec 10 at 5 pm by Zoom. We’ve avoided the scheduling conflict with the Sara’s practice job talk, but some of you may have other conflicts (for example, with Alan Nelson’s class, which will have a final session at the same day/time). It’s fine if you need to, or if it would just be more useful for you to attend a different session than ours. Please just let me know what your plans are.

If you haven’t already, please submit feedback and evaluations for this seminar. Here is the link I was given for this; perhaps it was also emailed to you directly. All those participating in the course, including those grads taking it as participation-only, are invited to respond. The system will accept your input until end of the day on Wednesday.

I still have a bit of lingering cold (that’s all it is, two negative Covid tests). I thought I felt fine to teach today but in this morning’s class I discovered that my throat still tickles and makes me have to pause and cough sometimes. So perhaps we should run today’s session entirely by Zoom. Let me know if that poses a difficulty for anyone.

Mon Nov 22

Next week we’ll continue our discussion of Kaplan.

Reminding you of what we said in class: your final papers will still be due by 4 pm on Fri Dec 10. However, instead of meeting at 4, we’ll instead have a Zoom meeting that day starting at 5 pm. The Zoom link is at this restricted page (same link as for our regular classes).

Mon Nov 15

For the next two weeks, we’ll be discussing Kaplan’s “Demonstratives” (written 1977, published 1989) and “Afterthoughts” (1989). Here is a PDF of them combined. As I said in class, try to skim most of these articles up front, and don’t get hung up on the formal parts when you don’t follow them. Then go back and start reading the 1977 manuscript more slowly. Next week we’ll aim to discuss the first 1/3 or 1/2 of that article, and general issues about Kaplan’s overall project. We’ll decide as a group what to focus on the next week.

I mentioned in today’s meeting an article by Cian Dorr that develops and defends some ideas that emerged in our discussion. Here it is for optional reading: De Re A Priori Knowledge (Mind, 2011).

Tue Nov 9

For next week, we’ll read Donnellan’s article Contingent A Priori and Rigid Designators (1977). Also read the rest of Chapter 2 (from pp. 56-70) of Hawthorne and Manley’s The Reference Book (2012).

Mon Nov 1

Here are the study questions on Kripke I mentioned in class.

For next week, we’ll discuss Naming and Necessity up to the top of p. 144, and also read the Addenda (which start on p. 156 in my edition). We’re skipping the end of Lecture III, where Kripke talks about “the identity thesis” that particular pains are identical to particular brain states.

Mon Oct 25

For next week, our second on Naming and Necessity, read up to the middle of p. 110. This passage ends a paragraph before Kripke has a medium-long quote from article by Timothy Sprigge. For this week, also read the Preface to the book.

For the third week, we’ll be reading up to the top of p. 144 (ending where Kripke begins talking about the mind/brain identity theory), and also reading the Addenda to the book (which start on p. 156 in my edition).

Mon Oct 18

The reading for next week is an initial chunk of Kripke’s Naming and Necessity. We want to read Lecture I and the start of Lecture II, up to about midway through p. 78 in my edition. The last paragraph starts with “Given these remarks, this means we must cross off Thesis (6) as incorrect” and ends with “This at least survives as far as the arguments we have given up to now go.” Skip the Preface for now; we’ll read that at a later point.

Mon Oct 11

The reading for next week is Kripke’s paper Speaker’s Reference and Semantic Reference (1977).

Mon Oct 4

The reading for next week is a selection from Hawthorne and Manley’s The Reference Book (2012). Read Chapter 1 and up to the top of p. 56 in Chapter 2.

Remember, those of you writing papers, they’re due this coming Sunday Oct 10, by the end of the day (midnight). No discussion questions about Hawthorne and Manley are expected this coming week. (But you are welcome to formulate them if you want to, and welcome to share them with me before class if you do.)

Mon Sept 27

The reading for next week is Kaplan’s Quantifying In (1968/9).

Wed Sept 22

Your first papers are due Sunday Oct 10 (two weeks from this coming Sunday). No questions will be due that week. The papers should be 5-7 pages. You can write on any topic reasonably engaging with the readings and/or issues we’ve discussed so far in class. If you have doubts about whether some topic is appropriate, or whether it’s of moderate enough ambition to be attempted in a paper this size, talk to me about it. If you need ideas for a paper topic, or more guidance, here are some suggestions.

I recommend reading Chapters 1-3 of Lycan’s introduction to Philosophy of Language. This covers issues we’ve discussed so far in the class. (Chapter 3 anticipates some things we’ll discuss later, when we get to Kripke’s Naming and Necessity, and Chapter 4 goes into those issues in more detail.) Chapters 5, 7, 10, 11, and 13 also touch on some issues we’ve engaged with; so you can consider them to be possibly helpful too. But more optional, because they might be hard to follow without paging back to some previous chapters; and most of these chapters also survey positions and issues we haven’t encountered in class. Some of them we’ll be talking about later in the semester; others not.

Mon Sept 20

Sorry haven’t gotten the notes on Frege written up yet. Today we discussed Donnellan’s article. Next week we’ll be discussing Quine’s paper Quantifiers and Propositional Attitudes (1956).

Here is some optional extra reading: SEP on intensional transitive verbs.

Mon Sept 13

I’ll post writeups of my notes on Frege (with a few references to Strawson) in the next couple of days. In the meantime, the reading for our next meeting is Donnellan on referential uses of descriptions (1966). Remember to send me questions by 5 pm on Sunday (I won’t email reminders).

Mon Aug 30

We next meet in two weeks, on Sept 13. (Sept 6 is Labor Day.) The reading for our meeting is Strawson’s On Referring (1950). Remember to send me some questions on the reading by 5 pm on Sunday Sept 12.

Sun Aug 29

Here is the main handout for tomorrow’s session.

Fri Aug 27

Some parts of Russell’s texts are “quirks” that can get in the way of tracking the important action. I wrote up a description of six of these. It may help you as you work through the texts.

Tues Aug 24

Here is a writeup of the material we surveyed in our first meeting. I also expanded on a few things.

Mon Aug 23

Here are readings for next week. The ones by Frege are optional, but I recommend that you take a look at them when you have a chance. (Which may be later in the semester.) I’ll summarize some important moves and proposals from those papers next week, and we’ll spend most of our time talking through the Russell articles.

As I said on the front page of the syllabus, I posted some example questions about the Russell readings. I’ll ordinarily only expect you to suggest 3-4 questions in your own weekly submissions, not so many as on that example sheet.

I’ll post a writeup of the material we surveyed in today’s meeting soon.