PHIL3004 Meaning, Truth and Language

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 2UWA (Perth)Face to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 3 option in the Philosophy major sequence
  • The area of knowledge for this unit is Society and Culture
  • Category B broadening unit for students
  • Level 3 elective
This unit is an introduction to the philosophy of language. Language is a fundamental feature of all our lives, and yet in many ways it remains quite mysterious. It focuses on two of the most interesting mysteries about language—what is linguistic meaning, and how do linguistic expressions come to possess it? In considering these questions the unit also considers questions about how meaning depends on context and the relation between the intended meaning of our utterances and their actual meaning. Students also contemplate the importance of the concept of truth in thinking about meaning.

The unit aims to (1) provide students with the intellectual skills and knowledge to theorise about the nature of linguistic meaning in a deep and systematic way; (2) give students the tools necessary to engage with much contemporary philosophy (philosophy of language was seen as fundamental to analytic philosophy for much of the twentieth century and continues to have profound implications for most sub-disciplines); and (3) build on, and complement, two specific units offered by the School of Social Sciences and the School of Humanities (without these units being prerequisites)—LING3005 Semantics: Meaning in Language and PHIL2002 Logic: How to Defeat Your Foes with Reasoning.
Students are able to (1) demonstrate their familiarity with philosophical problems concerning the semantics of names, natural kind terms and sentences; (2) evaluate theories about the nature of linguistic meaning and the relation between literal meaning and speaker meaning; (3) distinguish semantics from pragmatics and evaluate theories about the dependence of meaning on context; (4) demonstrate a familiarity with the connections between truth and meaning; (5) independently interpret complex philosophical texts; (6) demonstrate an understanding of complex philosophical arguments and positions; (7) evaluate complex philosophical positions and arguments; (8) weigh the virtues and vices of competing philosophical doctrines; (9) construct persuasive arguments concerning difficult philosophical issues; (10) demonstrate advanced written communication and research skills; and (11) reflect on the nature and purpose of philosophy and philosophical argumentation.
Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) essays; (2) participation; and (3) examination. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Supplementary assessment is not available in this unit except in the case of a bachelor's pass degree student who has obtained a mark of 45 to 49 overall and is currently enrolled in this unit, and it is the only remaining unit that the student must pass in order to complete their course.
Unit Coordinator(s)
Dr Clas Weber
Unit rules
any Level 2 Philosophy unit
PHIL2212 Meaning, Truth and Language
Contact hours
lectures: 2 hours per week ; tutorials: 1 hour per week
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Books and other material wherever listed may be subject to change. Book lists relating to 'Preliminary reading', 'Recommended reading' and 'Textbooks' are, in most cases, available via the Booktopia Textbook Finder, which has the functionality to search by course code, course, ISBN and title, and may also be posted or available at the appropriate school's administrative offices. Where texts are listed in the unit description above, an asterisk (*) indicates that the book is available in paperback.