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Course Description

Noam Chomsky is recognized to have revolutionized linguistics. Not as well-known is his deep engagement with philosophy—especially as it bears on linguistics. He has written knowledgeably and controversially not just on questions about the methodology of linguistics, and its relationship to other sciences, but on typical philosophical topics in metaphysics such as the mind/body problem and free will. In this course, we will look how Chomsky's transformation of linguistics—as a science—directly leads him to philosophical positions that put him in opposition to the major philosophers of his day (and ours): W.V. O. Quine, Donald Davidson, Michael Dummett, Hilary Putnam, Jerrold J. Katz, and others. We will look at both his writings and the writings of some of his many opponents and critics. Among the topics we'll consider are innate ideas and analyticity, the empirical status of linguistics, its methodology, its relationship to other sciences, the status of semanticsasa science reductionism, and themind/body problem. The course will be self-contained: in particular, we will not presuppose any previous knowledge of linguistics.

A sample syllabus for the course may be found here: PHIL 0195 Syllabus. Please note: Syllabus dates, content, and format are subject to change between now and the fall semester.

Basic Enrollment Requirements: Unofficial Transcript – Bachelor’s Degree or progress towards a Bachelor’s Degree + 3.0 GPA. Must have taken two previous Philosophy courses; if you have not, please contact the instructor for permission to enroll

Instructor Approval: Not required

Remission Eligible: Yes, first day of term; all university policies apply

Refund Policy: For-Credit 3+ Weeks

Affiliated With:

School of Arts & Sciences