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An introduction to philosophy of language through systematic and accessible explanations of ten classic texts by such thinkers as Frege, Kripke, Russell, and Putnam. Many beginning students in philosophy of language find themselves grappling with dense and difficult texts not easily understood by someone new to the field. This book offers an introduction to philosophy of la An introduction to philosophy of language through systematic and accessible explanations of ten classic texts by such thinkers as Frege, Kripke, Russell, and Putnam. Many beginning students in philosophy of language find themselves grappling with dense and difficult texts not easily understood by someone new to the field. This book offers an introduction to philosophy of language by explaining ten classic, often anthologized, texts. Accessible and thorough, written with a unique combination of informality and careful formulation, the book addresses sense and reference, proper names, definite descriptions, indexicals, the definition of truth, truth and meaning, and the nature of speaker meaning, as addressed by Frege, Kripke, Russell, Donnellan, Kaplan, Evans, Putnam, Tarski, Davidson, and Grice. The explanations aim to be as simple as possible without sacrificing accuracy; critical assessments are included with the exposition in order to stimulate further thought and discussion. Philosophy of Language will be an essential resource for undergraduates in a typical philosophy of language course or for graduate students with no background in the field. It can be used in conjunction with an anthology of classic texts, sparing the instructor much arduous exegesis. ContentsFrege on Sense and ReferenceKripke on NamesRussell on Definite DescriptionsDonnellan's DistinctionKaplan on DemonstrativesEvans on Understanding DemonstrativesPutnam on Semantic ExternalismTarski's Theory of TruthDavidson's Semantics for Natural LanguageGrice's Theory of Speaker Meaning


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An introduction to philosophy of language through systematic and accessible explanations of ten classic texts by such thinkers as Frege, Kripke, Russell, and Putnam. Many beginning students in philosophy of language find themselves grappling with dense and difficult texts not easily understood by someone new to the field. This book offers an introduction to philosophy of la An introduction to philosophy of language through systematic and accessible explanations of ten classic texts by such thinkers as Frege, Kripke, Russell, and Putnam. Many beginning students in philosophy of language find themselves grappling with dense and difficult texts not easily understood by someone new to the field. This book offers an introduction to philosophy of language by explaining ten classic, often anthologized, texts. Accessible and thorough, written with a unique combination of informality and careful formulation, the book addresses sense and reference, proper names, definite descriptions, indexicals, the definition of truth, truth and meaning, and the nature of speaker meaning, as addressed by Frege, Kripke, Russell, Donnellan, Kaplan, Evans, Putnam, Tarski, Davidson, and Grice. The explanations aim to be as simple as possible without sacrificing accuracy; critical assessments are included with the exposition in order to stimulate further thought and discussion. Philosophy of Language will be an essential resource for undergraduates in a typical philosophy of language course or for graduate students with no background in the field. It can be used in conjunction with an anthology of classic texts, sparing the instructor much arduous exegesis. ContentsFrege on Sense and ReferenceKripke on NamesRussell on Definite DescriptionsDonnellan's DistinctionKaplan on DemonstrativesEvans on Understanding DemonstrativesPutnam on Semantic ExternalismTarski's Theory of TruthDavidson's Semantics for Natural LanguageGrice's Theory of Speaker Meaning

30 review for Philosophy of Language: The Classics Explained

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jacob Williams

    I decided to try to learn a bit about philosophy of language because stuff I was reading about philosophy of mind kept referring to it. This book was very helpful; I love the format and really appreciate its clarity. I read the original paper after reading each chapter, and generally felt McGinn had already told me most of what was worth knowing about it. I still don't really see the appeal of philosophy of language, though. What's the point? What are the consequences of favoring one theory over I decided to try to learn a bit about philosophy of language because stuff I was reading about philosophy of mind kept referring to it. This book was very helpful; I love the format and really appreciate its clarity. I read the original paper after reading each chapter, and generally felt McGinn had already told me most of what was worth knowing about it. I still don't really see the appeal of philosophy of language, though. What's the point? What are the consequences of favoring one theory over another? Those questions remain unclear in my mind.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Alina

    McGinn's clarity and concision, without much loss of content, is impressive. This book is based on transcriptions from McGinn's lectures, and it retains a conversational, elucidating quality. Each chapter focuses on a major paper by one key contributor to the debates in philosophy of language; McGinn walks the reader through the ideas presented in the paper, criticisms of these ideas, and its implications on major problems in the field. The chapters proceed in an order that allows the reader to McGinn's clarity and concision, without much loss of content, is impressive. This book is based on transcriptions from McGinn's lectures, and it retains a conversational, elucidating quality. Each chapter focuses on a major paper by one key contributor to the debates in philosophy of language; McGinn walks the reader through the ideas presented in the paper, criticisms of these ideas, and its implications on major problems in the field. The chapters proceed in an order that allows the reader to witness how responses to the same problems develop (and, possibly, make actual progress) over time. It also allows the reader to see potentially conventional assumptions or biases of the founders of these problems, biases which might have plagued the entire tradition and fated it to progress in the way it did. This book holds, by far, the clearest explanations I've read so far of theories by Gareth Evans, Alfred Tarski, and Donald Davidson (among other philosophers; I was especially delighted by these chapters due to the general deficit of clear explanations of their ideas). I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has little or no background in philosophy of language, and who wants a straightforward, effective introduction to the major thinkers of this tradition and the core problems that drive their debates.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Maciej Sitko

    Excellent and concise introduction to the study of language. True, it is missing some figures like Chomsky, but McGinn must've had good reason for it. It contains perfect treatment of Tarski's T-sentence truth semantics. One thing I didn't like were the sudden non-chrological jumps, for example, he jumps from Frege to Kripke's casual theory of names, and only then he treats Russell's descriptivism. Since Kripke attacks both Russell and Frege, this would be better done the other way around in my v Excellent and concise introduction to the study of language. True, it is missing some figures like Chomsky, but McGinn must've had good reason for it. It contains perfect treatment of Tarski's T-sentence truth semantics. One thing I didn't like were the sudden non-chrological jumps, for example, he jumps from Frege to Kripke's casual theory of names, and only then he treats Russell's descriptivism. Since Kripke attacks both Russell and Frege, this would be better done the other way around in my view. But that is a minor thing, not enough to take away full 5 stars from it.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jiawei Wang

    It's quite fun to read if you really enjoy philosophy of language. This book reminded me the time when I was learning philosophy in my undergrad. I'm not majoring in philosophy, but always feel fun and helpful to learn it. It's quite fun to read if you really enjoy philosophy of language. This book reminded me the time when I was learning philosophy in my undergrad. I'm not majoring in philosophy, but always feel fun and helpful to learn it.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lulu

    Language

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ben Holloway

    McGinn's book is less an introduction and more a commentary. It will be useful sat next to Martinich's reader. As a commentary, McGinn does a good job of explaining difficult passages of text by Frege, Kripke, Russell, Donnellen, Kaplan, Evans, Putnam, Tarski, Davidson, and Grice. McGinn's book is less an introduction and more a commentary. It will be useful sat next to Martinich's reader. As a commentary, McGinn does a good job of explaining difficult passages of text by Frege, Kripke, Russell, Donnellen, Kaplan, Evans, Putnam, Tarski, Davidson, and Grice.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Vitalii Prystupa

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ling Xian

  9. 5 out of 5

    Indigo Blue

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kiril Serebnik

  11. 4 out of 5

    Timothy

  12. 4 out of 5

    Martin Erwig

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jhc

  14. 4 out of 5

    Dead Moon Night

  15. 4 out of 5

    Donald L. Hatcher

  16. 5 out of 5

    Oliver

  17. 5 out of 5

    Mads W.-S.

  18. 5 out of 5

    John Reis

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jake Lanahan

  20. 5 out of 5

    Justin

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jasper Lindblom

  22. 4 out of 5

    Zain Raza

  23. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Douglass-Beatty

  24. 5 out of 5

    Keith Mahoney

  25. 5 out of 5

    Wes Lockhart

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mohammad Pouya

  27. 5 out of 5

    Borivoje Kojić

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mark

  29. 5 out of 5

    Roy Gonzalez

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jason Friedlander

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