CS 574 - Varieties of Formal Semantics

Spring '02

It is perhaps worthwhile saying that semantics [...] is a sober and modest discipline which has no pretensions of being a universal patent-medicine for all the ills and diseases of mankind, whether imaginary or real. You will not find in semantics any remedy for decayed teeth or illusions of grandeur or class conflicts. Nor is semantics a device for establishing that everyone except the speaker and his friends is speaking nonsense. - Alfred Tarski (1944)
Varol Akman
In general, graduate students
[If you are an undergrad, please inform me before you register for this course]
Wed 10:40, 11:40; Fri 13:40
Readings in the Philosophy of Language, edited by Peter Ludlow, MIT Press (1997)
[This excellent collection of papers is available in the bookstore; please purchase it asap]
MAJOR TOPICS Consult our textbook for a table of contents.


The paper that you'll present will be specified by myself ahead of time. Basically, I'll assign papers from our textbook. A talk lasts for 35 minutes or so, thus leaving room for questions and answers. Formal preparation of transparencies, etc. is not necessary but encouraged. Talk summaries (just a single page) may be distributed to your classmates and myself at the beginning of your presentation. (They, however, will not be graded.)

The length of the book review is approx. 5-6 pp. single-spaced. (Multiply these numbers by 1.5 for double-spaced documents.)

The length of the term paper is approx. 10-12 pp. single-spaced. (Multiply these numbers by 1.5 for double-spaced documents.)

All written material should be prepared using a decent document processing system. Carefully check your sentences for grammar and avoid spelling mistakes. If you're referring to other people's work do not forget to cite them appropriately. (Never cite a paper that you haven't read!)

In order to force you to work on your book reviews and term papers, there'll be a class discussion on Wed May 1 when you'll be asked to provide a very brief status report. (Thank you all contributors! You've received a bonus of 2% overall for your being present and  for your willingness to discuss your work.)


It is recommended that the student is familiar with the classical ideas of logic. I'll try to close any gaps though. The Bilkent Library has a good collection of logic and semantics books. The following is a representative but highly incomplete and unordered list:

AGIN ONUR Chapter 3 (Quine) March 1
BALOGLU ULAS BARAN Chapter 4 (Grice) March 8
KOCA AYLIN Chapter 9 (Larson & Segal) March 22
SAKA CIGDEM Chapter 22 (Frege) March 29
DOGANDAG SEMRA Chapter 15 (Russell) April 5
YAVAS GOKHAN Chapter 16 (Strawson) April 12
BAYSAL AYSAN Chapter 23 (Searle) April 19
SEVDIK AYISIGI BASAK Chapter 17 (Donnellan) April 26
DEMIREL KURTULUS Chapter 29 (Perry) May 3
DALGIC ESRA Chapter 35 (Davidson) May 10
AYDIN NAMIK OZGUR Chapter 38 (Kripke) May 17

KOCA AYLIN Philosophy of Language: A Contemporary Introduction William G. Lycan
DEMIREL KURTULUS Speaking of Events James Higginbotham
SEVDIK AYISIGI BASAK Metaphorically Speaking Patti D. Nogales
DOGANDAG SEMRA Context and Content: Essays on Intentionality in Speech and Thought Robert C. Stalnaker
SAKA CIGDEM Philosophy and Linguistics Kumiko Murasugi & Robert Stainton
DALGIC ESRA Words and the Grammar of Context Paul Kay
AGIN ONUR Cognitive Semantics: Meaning and Cognition Jens Allwood & Peter Gardenfors
BAYSAL AYSAN Ways of Saying: Ways of Meaning Ruqaiya Hasan
BALOGLU ULAS BARAN Truth Simon Blackburn & Keith Simmons
YAVAS GOKHAN The Language Connection: Philosophy and Linguistics Roy Harris
AYDIN NAMIK OZGUR Meaning, Creativity, and the Partial Inscrutability of the Human Mind Julius M. Moravcsik


(N.B. Sometimes I've taken liberties with your title or invented one. Please see me if you have a better description.)

KOCA AYLIN Pragmatics (TBA)
DEMIREL KURTULUS Language and the Brain (TBA)
SEVDIK AYISIGI BASAK How People Build and Understand Metaphorical Relations
DOGANDAG SEMRA Applying the Satisfaction Theory for Analyzing Presupposition
SAKA CIGDEM On Frege's "Sense and Reference"
DALGIC ESRA On Davidson's "Truth and Meaning"
AGIN ONUR On Quine's "Translation and Meaning"
BAYSAL AYSAN Goodman on ways of worldmaking
BALOGLU ULAS BARAN How Evaluation Mechanism of Truth Evolves from Childhood to Adulthood
YAVAS GOKHAN Varieties of the Liar Paradox
AYDIN NAMIK OZGUR Semantic Explorations on Socratic Irony