Representation and Reality


Take-Home Exam Questions



DUE:                October 29, 2004 (Friday), 5pm.

WORDS:         3000    (4000 for PHIL7201 students)

README:    Answer ONE of the following questions.

                         Use 10-point type and single-space your essay. Leave 1” margins.

                        Make sure you explain the problem being discussed well first before proceeding to analyze and

                        evaluate solutions offered.

                        Use your own examples where appropriate to demonstrate your understanding of the issues.

                        Use the guide to referencing that is provided on the course web site. Failure to reference properly will be penalised.

                        When you have completed your essay, attach a completed School Coversheet and deposit in the slot outside E306,

                        Forgan Smith on or before the due date.

                        Students seeking extensions on medical or related grounds must do so prior to the due date.

                        A penalty of 1 grade per day may be imposed for late papers without an extension.




1.                  Putnam uses the example of Twin-Earth to argue that meanings “ain’t in the head.” Explain the argument. If Putnam is right, how is meaning related to what’s in the head?


2.                  Gareth Evans argues that Quine’s argument for the radical indeterminacy of translation is insufficient to support his skepticism about meaning. What is Quine’s argument here, and what is Evans’s critique? How do you evaluate this debate?


3.                  Wittgenstein seems to be saying that ‘meaning’ refers to roles in a game and does not essentially involve reference. What does he mean? Do you think that Wittgenstein’s view is tenable? How do various forms of Inferential Role Semantics feature in this debate?


4.                  Davidson proposes that the meaning of a sentence should be equated with the truth conditions for that sentence. Why does he think so? Assuming that he is correct about the compositionality of meaning, how can a theory of this sort cope with the semantic characteristics of opaque contexts?


5.                  Explain Grice’s notion of a distinction between sentence meaning and speaker meaning. What would be the significance of this distinction for the theory of meaning if it were coherent? Is it coherent?