Philosophy of Language : A Contemporary Introduction book cover
3rd Edition

Philosophy of Language
A Contemporary Introduction

ISBN 9781138504585
Published September 10, 2018 by Routledge
252 Pages

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Book Description

Now in its third edition, Philosophy of Language: A Contemporary Introduction introduces students to the main issues and theories in twenty-first-century philosophy of language, focusing specifically on linguistic phenomena. Author William G. Lycan structures the book into four general parts. Part I, Reference and Referring, includes topics such as Russell's Theory of Descriptions (and its objections), Donnellan's distinction, problems of anaphora, the Description Theory of proper names, Searle's Cluster Theory, and the Causal-Historical Theory. Part II, Theories of Meaning, surveys the competing theories of linguistic meaning and compares their various advantages and liabilities. Part III, Pragmatics and Speech Acts, introduces the basic concepts of linguistic pragmatics and includes a detailed discussion of the problem of indirect force. Part IV, The Expressive and the Figurative, examines various forms of expressive language and what "metaphorical meaning" is and how most listeners readily grasp it.

Features of Philosophy of Language include:

  • chapter overviews and summaries;
  • clear supportive examples;
  • study questions;
  • annotated lists of further reading;
  • a glossary.

Updates to the third edition include:

  • an entirely new chapter, "Expressive Language" (Chapter 14), covering verbal irony, sarcasm, and pejorative language (particularly slurs);
  • the addition in several chapters of short sections on pretense theories, addressing (1) puzzles about reference, (2) irony, and (3) metaphor;
  • a much expanded discussion of Relevance Theory, particularly its notion of ad hoc concept construction or "loosening and tightening," and the application of that to metaphor;
  • new discussion of Cappelen and Lepore's skepticism about content-dependence;
  • up-to-date coverage of new literature, further reading lists, and the bibliography, as well as an improved glossary.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Meaning and Reference Part 1: Reference and Referring  2. Definite Descriptions  3. Proper Names: The Description Theory  4. Proper Names: Direct Reference and the CausalHistorical Theory  Part II: Theories of Meaning  5. Traditional Theories of Meaning  6. "Use" Theories  7. Psychological Theories: Grice's Program  8. Verificationism  9. Truth-Condition Theories: Davidson's Program  10. Truth-Condition Theories: Possible Worlds and Intensional Semantics  Part III: Pragmatics and Speech Acts  11. Semantic Pragmatics  12. Speech Acts and Illocutionary Force  13. Implicative Relations  Part IV: The Expressive and the Figurative  14. Expressive Language  15. Metaphor  Glossary  Bibliography  Index

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William G. Lycan is William Rand Kenan, Jr. Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and currently Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Connecticut, Storrs. His eight books include Consciousness and Experience (1996), Real Conditionals (2001), and Philosophy of Language: A Contemporary Introduction (Third Edition, 2018).


"An authoritative, pedagogically sensitive and superbly clear introduction to the central issues of the philosophy of language."

Paul Boghossian, New York University, USA