Universität Wien
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180167 SE Words and Concepts: Normative Issues (2019W)

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


Note: The time of your registration within the registration period has no effect on the allocation of places (no first come, first served).


max. 30 participants
Language: English


Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

ACHTUNG!! Der Termin am 17.12.2019 muss leider entfallen!!

ACHTUNG!! Am 17.12.2019 findet im HS 3 A (3. Stock) um 10-11 Uhr ein Workshop statt. BItte um Teilnahme!!

  • Tuesday 08.10. 09:45 - 11:15 Hörsaal 3F NIG 3.Stock
  • Tuesday 15.10. 09:45 - 11:15 Hörsaal 3F NIG 3.Stock
  • Tuesday 22.10. 09:45 - 11:15 Hörsaal 3F NIG 3.Stock
  • Tuesday 29.10. 09:45 - 11:15 Hörsaal 3F NIG 3.Stock
  • Tuesday 05.11. 09:45 - 11:15 Hörsaal 3F NIG 3.Stock
  • Tuesday 12.11. 09:45 - 11:15 Hörsaal 3F NIG 3.Stock
  • Tuesday 19.11. 09:45 - 11:15 Hörsaal 3F NIG 3.Stock
  • Tuesday 26.11. 09:45 - 11:15 Hörsaal 3F NIG 3.Stock
  • Tuesday 03.12. 09:45 - 11:15 Hörsaal 3F NIG 3.Stock
  • Tuesday 10.12. 09:45 - 11:15 Hörsaal 3F NIG 3.Stock
  • Tuesday 07.01. 09:45 - 11:15 Hörsaal 3F NIG 3.Stock
  • Tuesday 14.01. 09:45 - 11:15 Hörsaal 3F NIG 3.Stock
  • Tuesday 21.01. 09:45 - 11:15 Hörsaal 3F NIG 3.Stock
  • Tuesday 28.01. 09:45 - 11:15 Hörsaal 3F NIG 3.Stock


Aims, contents and method of the course

This seminar focusses on normative questions regarding linguistic and conceptual representations. Can philosophers improve our conceptual and linguistic resources? How is conceptual or linguistic “engineering” to be achieved? What are its consequences? What are alternative methods? Can we work out a general theory of how language and concepts are to be engineered? Here are some of the authors we will read: Rudolf Carnap, who championed the notion of explication; Peter Strawson, who criticizes Carnap's method; J.L. Austin and N. Malcolm, who advocated ordinary language philosophy. We will also look at contemporary authors who revisit Carnapian explication and develop it in several different directions, such as Erik Olsson, Kevin Scharp, Matti Eklund and Sally Haslanger.

Assessment and permitted materials

Students are asked to complete the following tasks, which are all relevant to the final evaluation.
(1) Sending a summary of max 100 words, plus 1-2 questions, before each session. The summary and the questions should be uploaded on Moodle by 20:00 on the day prior to the seminar. This assignment counts for 25% of the final mark.
(2) Holding a presentation about a chosen topic or author. The length of the presentation will depend on the final number of students. This assignment counts for 25% of the final mark.
(3) Writing an essay of max 2500 words, on a chosen topic or author, to be handed in by February 28th, 2020. This assignment counts for 50% of the final mark. The essay should be delivered via Moodle, by following a dedicated link.
[ By registering to this course, you agree to have your written assignments checked by the anti-plagiarism software Turnitin. (Mit der Anmeldung zu dieser Lehrveranstaltung stimmen Sie zu, dass die automatisierte Plagiatsprüfungs-Software Turnitin alle von Ihnen im moodle eingereichten schriftlichen Teilleistungen prüft.)]

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

- The minimum requirement is some familiarity with the methods and writing style of analytic philosophy.
- The following skills and competences will be evaluated: (1) the student’s capacity to summarize a philosophical text by capturing its main thesis and the gist of its main argument(s) with sufficient precision and conciseness. (2) the student’s capacity to formulate critical questions that can spur a discussion. (3) the student’s capacity to structure a philosophy presentation, including formulation of the main thesis, articulation of arguments, engagement with questions from the audience. (4) the student’s capacity to present their philosophical ideas and arguments in written and extended form, with clarity, precision and good bibliographical support.
- Absences policy: up to two absences are allowed. Any other absence should be adequately motivated. Unjustified absences will impact one’s final grade.

Examination topics

The students are allowed to choose a topic for their presentation and their essay, which could be either a theme to be developed, or an investigation and critical evaluation of an author’s texts. It is allowed to pick the same topic for the presentation and the essay.

Reading list

Mandatory readings:
15.10 - Carnap, Rudolf (1950). “On Explication” in Logical Foundations of Probability. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
22.10 - Strawson, Peter F. (1963). Carnap’s Views on Conceptual Systems versus Natural Languages in Analytic Philosophy. In Paul Arthur Schilpp (ed.), The Philosophy of Rudolf Carnap. Open Court: La Salle. pp. 503-518. + Carnap, Rudolf (1963). Response to Strawson in the same volume.
29.10 - Austin, J. L.; + Strawson, P. F. (1950). Truth. Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 24 (1):111-172. (excerpts)
5.11 - Tillman, Frank A. (1965). Explication and ordinary language analysis. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 25 (3):375-383.
19.11 - Burgess, Alexis & Plunkett, David (2013). Conceptual Ethics I and II. Philosophy Compass 8 (12):1091-1101.
26.11 - Eklund, Matti (2002). Personal identity and conceptual incoherence. Noûs 36 (3):465-485.
3.12 - Scharp, Kevin (2007). Replacing truth. Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 50 (6):606 – 621
10.12 - Haslanger, Sally (2000). Gender and race: (What) are they? (What) do we want them to be? Noûs 34 (1):31–55.
17.12 - Fassio, Davide & McKenna, Robin (2015). Revisionary Epistemology. Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 58 (7-8):755-779.
Further suggested readings will be specified in class.

Association in the course directory

Last modified: Mo 07.09.2020 15:21