This course is discontinued

FIL4471 – reference, Context and Speech acts with short essay

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

The course may be given in several variants, based on one or more of the following core areas in philosophy of language:

(1) Truth. What is truth? Is truth a genuine property that some sentences or utterances possess? If so, what type of property is it? Various theories of truth.

(2) Meaning and translation. What is linguistic meaning? What is the relationship between truth and meaning? Can a theory of truth serve as a theory of meaning? To what extent is translation possible? Does translation preserve meaning?

(3) Reference. How does language connect with reality? How should we understand the semantic relationship between singular terms and things? How are proper names, definite descriptions and indexicals related to objects in the world?

(4) Propositional attitudes and interpretation. How should we understand expressions for belief and other attitudes to propositional contents? How do we express our own, and how do we report others’ propositional attitudes?

(5) Thought, utterances and context. How does extralinguistic context affect our understanding and interpretation of utterances? Does context play different roles in semantic and pragmatic analyses of our use of natural language?

Learning outcome

To complete the course the student is expected to:

  • have good knowledge of the core texts for the course
  • be able to apply knowledge of the course area in order to critically evaluate new research contributions in the literature.
  • be able to discuss the philosophical issues covered in the course in a critical and professional manner, both orally and in writing.
  • write an essay between 10 and 15 A4 pages long, answering a precise question, with a clear, self-developed argumentative structure, demonstrating the student's progress in understanding the course area.


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If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.


Formal prerequisite knowledge

No obligatory prerequisites beyond the minimum requirements for entrance to higher education in Norway.


Teaching takes place throughout the semester with two hours per week. Active participation from the students in form of oral or written presentations throughout the seminar is expected.


A 4 hours school exam and an essay of 10-15 pages

Language of examination


Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

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Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.

Facts about this course






Spring 2012

Spring 2011


Spring 2012

Spring 2011

Teaching language