Postgraduate Course: Formal Semantics for Philosophers MSc (PHIL11118)
|School||School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences
||College||College of Humanities and Social Science
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
||Availability||Not available to visiting students
|Summary||A course on how to do semantics, i.e. a theory of meaning, for natural languages using various mathematical tools.
Formal Semantics for Philosophers MSc is also shared with the undergraduate version Formal Semantics for Philosophers (PHIL10137).
For courses co-taught with undergraduate students and with no remaining undergraduate spaces left, a maximum of 8 MSc students can join the course. Priority will be given to MSc students who wish to take the course for credit on a first come first served basis after matriculation.
Formal semantics is a subfield of linguistics and philosophy of language that aims at providing a formal analysis of meaning. More specifically a systematic method for recursively and compositionally deriving the truth conditions of sentences of natural language. This systematic method relies on the use of a number of mathematical and logical tools and this course is intended as an introduction to this general project. The two primary aims of the course are to provide a general understanding of the mathematical and logical tools standardly used in formal semantics and of the complex issues that any formal analysis of natural language inevitably faces. Formal semantics is now an essential part of the philosophy of language and often has wide-reaching impact in other philosophical areas such as (formal) epistemology, logic, philosophy of mind, metaethics etc.
Since a number of sophisticated mathematical and logical tools are used in formal semantics, this course is intended as an introduction to these tools as well as the underlying methodology. We will focus on three general, but complex, issues, namely:
I. Restricted/Generalized Quantifiers (Quantificational Determiner Phrases).
II. Free vs. Bound Variables (Pronouns).
III. Index-Shifting (Intensional Operators).
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
||Other requirements|| None
Course Delivery Information
|Not being delivered|
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- understand various formal tools used in formal semantics. (basic generative syntax, type driven interpretations, lambda abstraction, variable assignments, binding, etc.)
- compositionally derive the truth conditions of simple natural language sentences.
- understand important methodological principles. (compositionality, recursion, syntax-semantic correspondence.)
- understand (a few) complex issues widely discussed in philosophy of language and semantics. (the semantics of: quantificational determiner phrases, pronouns, modals, attitude verbs, and conditionals)
|von Fintel, Kai and Heim, Irene 2007. ''Intensional Semantics''. Unpublished ms.|
Glanzberg, Michael 2006. ''Quantifiers''. In Lepore, Ernest and Smith, Barry C. (eds.) The Oxford Handbook
of Philosophy of Language, chap. 31. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 794-822.
Heim, Irene and Kratzer, Angelika 1998. ''Semantics in Generative Grammar''. Blackwell Publishing.
Kaplan, David 1989. ''Demonstratives''. In Almog, Joseph, Perry, John and Wettstein, Howard (eds.) Themes From Kaplan. Oxford University Press.
||Please see Learn page
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
||Writing skills, interpreting texts, evaluating arguments and theories
|Additional Class Delivery Information
||Taught by Dr Anders Schoubye
|Course organiser||Dr Anders Schoubye
|Course secretary||Miss Lynsey Buchanan
Tel: (0131 6)51 5002