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180163 SE Modality in Logic and Language (2019S)

5.00 ECTS (2.00 SWS), SPL 18 - Philosophie
Continuous assessment of course work



max. 30 participants
Language: English


Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

As part of the seminar, we will have a one-day workshop with Professor Andy Egan (Rutgers) on 28 June 2019.

Thursday 14.03. 11:30 - 13:00 Hörsaal 3F NIG 3.Stock
Thursday 21.03. 11:30 - 13:00 Hörsaal 3F NIG 3.Stock
Thursday 28.03. 11:30 - 13:00 Hörsaal 3F NIG 3.Stock
Thursday 04.04. 11:30 - 13:00 Hörsaal 3F NIG 3.Stock
Thursday 11.04. 11:30 - 13:00 Hörsaal 3F NIG 3.Stock
Thursday 02.05. 11:30 - 13:00 Hörsaal 3F NIG 3.Stock
Thursday 09.05. 11:30 - 13:00 Hörsaal 3F NIG 3.Stock
Thursday 16.05. 11:30 - 13:00 Hörsaal 3F NIG 3.Stock
Thursday 13.06. 11:30 - 13:00 Hörsaal 3F NIG 3.Stock
Tuesday 25.06. 08:00 - 09:30 Hörsaal 3F NIG 3.Stock
Friday 28.06. 10:00 - 17:00 Hörsaal 2G, NIG Universitätsstraße 7/Stg. II/2.Stock, 1010 Wien


Aims, contents and method of the course

In this seminar, we will investigate the category of modality as it occurs in formal logic and in natural languages.

In the first part of the seminar, we will study modality in logic, where it is first and foremost understood through possibility and necessity. Hence modal logic is the logic of possibility and necessity.

Modality in natural language is a much wider phenomenon–it is understood to account for "displacement"', a design feature of human languages that allows for discourse that goes beyond the actual here and now. In the second part of the seminar, we will investigate two primary types of modal expressions in natural language: modal auxiliaries (may, might, could, should, must) and conditional constructions (if... then). We will study their semantics and learn about the formal system called "intensional semantics'".

In the third part, we take a look at the interaction of epistemic modals (expressing what may or must be the case, given one's information or knowledge) with the context of speech.

This is primarily a course in formal logic and formal semantics. We will acquire tools that will be widely useful to your studies beyond logic and semantics: modal notions play a central role occur in philosophy of language, metaphysics, metaethics, epistemolgy, (meta)aesthetics, and others.

Professor Andy Egan (Rutgers, New Jersey) will join us for a one-day workshop at the end of June. Attendance at the workshop is mandatory.

The course language as well as all readings will be in English.

Assessment and permitted materials

3 problem sets (30%)

Presentation in the workshop or seminar (20%)

Paper (50%)

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

Students need to have completed an introductory course in formal logic.

Knowledge of formal semantics will be of advantage, but is no requirement.

Examination topics

Reading list

Logic: Graham Priest (2008): An Introduction to Non-Classical Logic. (OUP)

Semantics: Kai von Fintel & Irene Heim (2011): Intensional Semantics (unpublished manuscript)

Epistemic Modality: Articles by Andy Egan and others – see https://www.andyegan.net/research/

Association in the course directory

Last modified: Mo 07.09.2020 15:36