Course Descriptions for May-July and December, 2014

Course Descriptions for May-July and December, 2014

Kyoto University

Takashi Yagisawa

May – July:

This course will consist of two parts. In the first part, we will cover several topics which are absolutely fundamental and indispensable in any philosophical undertaking. Some of them pertain to general features of reasoning (types of argument, kinds of definition, the method of thought experiment, various conceptual distinctions), while others concern specific technical ideas that are assumed in contemporary philosophical writing (important set-theoretical results, possible worlds and related topics about necessity and possibility, probabilistic thinking, nature  of causation, interrelationship between syntax and semantics, important meta-theoretical results in formal logic). For some students, this part of the course will be a quick review of what they have been exposed to already. For other students, it will provide them with knowledge and skills necessary for efficient and rewarding philosophical endeavor in a cleanly packaged manner.

In the second part of the course, we will apply what we have learned in the first part to one of the most important contributions analytic philosophy has made to the discipline of philosophy: the extensionalist method. We will focus on the logico-linguistic phenomenon of “referential opacity” and the logico-epistemic notion of “singular thought” in order to understand the extensionalist method and appreciate how it can help us in our investigations in Asian Philosophy.



Separating and understanding various different kinds of language use is important when discussing Asian philosophical literature. In this course, we will investigate logic, semantics, and metaphysics of fictional language. In particular, we will focus on singular terms (mostly proper names) as they appear in fictional discourse. Starting with the well-known and extremely influential picture of singular terms proposed in Naming and Necessity by Saul A. Kripke, we will see how it can deal with fictional names. We will also consider and evaluate the metaphysical position known as “creationism” concerning fictional characters.