Philosophy 2120J: Sense and Reference

General Information

Our goal in the course is to read two recent papers proposing a somewhat new idea about how to deal with so-called "Frege cases". These are a paper of mine, "Solving Frege's Puzzle", and an as yet unpublished paper by Jim Pryor, "Mental Graphs". We'll read these toward the end. Most of our time will be spent developing the background that is necessary to see why such a radical approach might seem like a good idea. As it happens, our focus will be more on philosophy of mind than on philosophy of language, but this kind of issue tends to straddle that border.

Meetings are held Wednesday, 3-5.30, in Corliss-Brackett, Room 106 (the seminar room).

The instructor is Richard Heck. Office hours are Monday 1-2 and Friday 11-12.


There are no required books. We will, though, be reading two chapters of Jerry Fodor's book The Elm and the Expert, so it wouldn't be a terrible idea to get a copy from your favorite bookstore. Alternatively, the book is available from Brown's Digital Library.

All the readings are available via the links on this website. Where possible, links are to publicly available sources, but some are available only to enrolled students and require a username and password.

To view the PDFs, you will of course need a PDF reader, which you probably already have.

Many of the files are only available in DjVu, however, and most of the PDFs are also available as DjVu, in a "two per page" format (the way a photocopy of a book would be) Why DjVu? Because DjVu is a file format specifically designed for scanned text: The DjVu encoder produces files that are typically much smaller than the corresponding PDFs, typically about one tenth the size, when dealing with scanned text.

To read the DjVu files, you will need a DjVu reader. Browser plugins for Windows and Mac OSX are available from Celartem. Many Linux users will already have a DjVu reader, since Okular (which is part of the KDE grapics module) supports DjVu. There is also a dedicated DjVu reader for Linux that can usually be installed via the djvulibre package. (Source code and packages are available at SourceForge, or you can install the package using your distro's package management system.) A list of other DjVu resources is maintained at

Several of the eBook readers available for iOS and Android also support DjVu. For iOS the most popular of these seems to be Stanza, though I do not use iOS and so have no relevant knowledge myself. For Android, the best I have found is EBookDroid, which is a truly remarkable product. Among other things, it will split "two per page" landscape pages into single pages and automatically crop to the text area (thus maximizing font size), just to start. Unfortunately, this has now become closed-source, though it is still free to use (free as in beer, but not as in speech).

NOTE: When printing these files, make sure you print them in the correct mode: ‘landscape’ or ‘portrait’. In particular, two-to-a-page scanned pages should be printed in landscape mode, so that they come out the way they were photocopied. You will get very small text and a lot of blank paper if you print them portrait.


9 September

Gottlob Frege, "On Sense and Meaning", in his Collected Papers, ed. by B. McGuiness, tr. by M. Black and P. Geach (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1984), pp. 157-77 (DjVu, JSTOR).
We will discuss only pp. 25-31 (in the original pagination. If you've never read this paper before, though, you should read through all of it the first time, and then come back to those pages.
The JSTOR link is to an old translation. Enrolled students should use the DjVu link if possible.

16 September

Jerry Fodor, "Propositional Attitudes", The Monist 61 (1978), pp. 501-23 (JSTOR, DjVu).

Jerry Fodor, "Fodor's Guide to Mental Representation", Mind 94 (1985), pp. 76-100 (JSTOR, DjVu)

Optional but useful: Hartry Field, "Mental Representation", Erkenntnis 13 (1978), pp. 9-61 (JSTOR, DjVu).

The thing I'd really like for us to read here is Fodor's book The Language of Thought (the original, not LOT2: The Language of Thought Revisited). But that's rather too much for one week.

23 September

Hilary Putnam, "The Meaning of 'Meaning'", Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science 7 (1975), pp. 131-193 (PDF, DjVu)
You only need to read up to the section "Indexicality and Rigidity", which begins on p. 146 in the original article. (If you have the reprint from Putnam's Mind, Language, and Reality, that section begins on p. 229.) Those of you who have some prior experience with this material should read further into the paper.
If you have not previously encountered the notion of a natural kind, have a look at the Wikipedia entry on the topic for a quick summary. Or check out the Stanford Encyclopedia article for more detail.

Jerry Fodor, "Methodological Solipsism as a Research Strategy in Cognitive Psychology", Behavioral and Brain Sciences 3 (1980), pp. 63-73; reprinted in (Re)Presentations (Cambridge MA: MIT Press, 1981), pp. 225-53 (DjVu)
We'll focus primiarily on pp. 225-44, although it is only in the later parts of the paper that Fodor discusses Putnam directly.
Unfortunately, Brown's digital subscription to BBS does not go back as far as 1980. But it is possible to find copies of this paper on the web. Try searching for it. (Google works best.)

30 September

Tyler Burge, "Individualism and the Mental", Midwest Studies in Philosophy 4 (1979), pp. 73-121; reprinted in Foundations of Mind (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007, pp. 100-50 (DjVu of Original, Book at Brown Digital Library, PDF of Reprint, DjVu of Reprint)
As you will note, this is a very long paper. I very much doubt that we will get beyond section III, and sections IV and V are not so relevant to our concerns, anyway. So feel free just to read pp. 73-103 (pp. 100-32 in the reprint).

Brian Loar, "Social Content and Psychological Content", in R.H. Grimm and D.D. Merrill, eds, Contents of Thoughts (Tuscon: University of Arizona Press, 1988), pp. 99-110 (DjVu)

Very optional, but mentioned in class: Jessica Benjamin, "An Outline of Intersubjectivity: The Development of Recognition", Psychoanalytic Psychology, sup vol 7 (1990), pp. 33-46 (EbscoHost)

7 October

Jerry Fodor, "Cognitive Science and the Twin-Earth Problem", Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic 23 (1982), 98-118 (Project Euclid, DjVu)
There is a long discussion on pp. 106-10 of why we shouldn't think that Twin Earth beliefs expressed using "water is wet" have the content that XYZ is wet. You can skip or skim this section. The underlying point is that this has to be wrong, since the beliefs we so express do not have the content that H2O is wet.
On pp. 110-15, Fodor offers his own account of what the "narrow" content of Bert and Twin Bert's common beliefs about water or arthritis or whatever might be. This part of the paper is also optional. Fodor gives a different answer to the same question in the other paper of his we are reading for this session (and even other answers elsewhere).

Jerry Fodor, "Individualism and Supervenience", Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, sup. vol. 60 (1986), pp. 235-62 (JSTOR, DjVu)

Martin Davies, "Externality, Psychological Explanation, and Narrow Content", Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, sup. vol. 60 (1986), pp. 263-83 (JSTOR, DjVu)
We will not directly discuss the material in the second part of this paper (pp. 274-81), largely because it assumes some familiarity with "neo-Fregean" accounts of demonstratives and indexicals. So you do not need to read that bit. Those of you who were in 1765 may wish to read it, though. The crucial point, which I will try to bring out in class, is that there is an issue about the relative priority of "broad" and "narrow" content, as Fodor conceives it.

14 October

Tyler Burge, "Individualism and Psychology", Philosophical Review 95 (1986), pp. 3-45; reprinted in Foundations of Mind (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007, pp. 221-53 (JSTOR, DjVu of Original, Book Brown Digital Library)

Christopher Peacocke, "Externalist Explanation", Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 93 (1993), pp. 203-230 (JSTOR, DjVu)
You need only read through section II, so pp. 203-14

21 October

Jerry Fodor, "Substitution Arguments and the Individuation of Beliefs", in his A Theory of Content and Other Essays (Cambridge MA: MIT Press, 1990), pp. 161-76 (Brown Digital Library, DjVu)

Jerry Fodor, The Elm and the Expert (Cambridge MA: MIT Press, 1994), Ch 1 (Brown Digital Library, DjVu)

28 October

Jerry Fodor, The Elm and the Expert, Ch 2 (Brown Digital Library, DjVu)

Murat Aydede and Philip Robbins, "Are Frege Cases Exceptions to Intentional Generalizations?" Canadian Journal of Philosophy 31 (2001), pp. 1-22 (JSTOR, PhilPapers, DjVu)

Susan Schneider, "Direct Reference, Psychological Explanation, and Frege Cases", Mind and Language 20 (2005), pp. 423-47 (Wiley Online, Schneider's website, DjVu)
A somewhat updated version of this paper is available as Chapter 8 of Scheider's book The Language of Thought: A New Philosophical Direction, which is available electronically through the Brown Digital Library.

4 November

Francois Recanati, "Mental Files and Identity", in Anne Reboul, ed., Philosophical Papers Dedicated to Kevin Mulligan (2011), URL: (PDF from Festschrift website, From course website)

Richard G Heck, Jr., "Solving Frege's Puzzle", Journal of Philosophy 109 (2012), pp. 132-74
(PDC Net, Longer version)

11 November

Jim Pryor, "Mental Graphs" (to appear in Review of Philosophy and Psychology) (PDF from Jim's website, From course website)

It is tentatively planned that Prof Pryor will visit the seminar to discuss his paper. Details TBA.

18 November

Christopher Peacocke, "Content, Computation and Externalism", Philosophical Issues 6 (1995), pp. 227-264 (JSTOR, DjVu)

Frances Egan, "In Defense of Narrow Mindedness", Mind and Language 14 (1999), pp. 177-94 (Wiley Online, Egan's website, DjVu)

Christopher Peacocke, "Computation as Involving Content: A Response to Egan", Mind and Language 14 (1999), pp. 195-202 (Wiley Online, DjVu)

25 November No Class: Thanksgiving Break
2 December

Susan Schneider, "The Nature of Symbols in the Language of Thought", Mind and Language 24 (2009), pp. 523-53 (Wiley Online, Schneider's website, DjVu)

Michael Rescorla, "Are Computational Transitions Sensitive to Semantics?" Australasian Journal of Philosophy 90 (2012), pp. 703-721 (T&F Online, Rescorla's website, DjVu)

Optional but recommended: Michael Rescorla, "The Representational Foundations of Computation", forthcoming in Philosophia Mathematica (Oxford Journals, Rescorla's website, DjVu)

9 December

We probably will not meet this day, but if we lose a day for some reason we'll need it, and it's possible we'll think of something more to do.