Phil 794S: Seminar - Speech Act Theory
Spring 2002 - SYLLABUS
Spring 2002. Mondays 3:30-6:00pm in Philosophy Seminar
Room (374 Bartlett)
Prof. Kevin Klement (Please call me "Kevin".)
A close examination of speech act theory and its relation to philosophy,
with a particular emphasis on the work of J. L. Austin. Topics include performative
utterances, locutionary, illocutionary and perlocutionary acts, conversational
implicature, and the relationship between pragmatics and semantics. We shall
also be exploring the potential relevance (or lack thereof) of these things
to traditional philosophical problems in ethics, epistemology and metaphysics.
My office is 353 Bartlett Hall. My office phone is 545-5784. My office hours
are Mondays 1:30-2:30pm and Thursdays 11am-12pm and by appointment. I'm often
in my office many other times. Feel free to drop by any time. You may also
e-mail me at email@example.com or call me at home at 259-1154.
J. L. Austin's How to Do Things With Words and Philosophical Papers
as well as John Searle's Speech Acts are available at Atticus Bookshop
in downtown Amherst. Other readings will be placed in a folder in the philosophy
department office (352 Bartlett), and many are available on JSTOR.
The course currently has a webpage under construction at:
There's nothing terribly interesting there yet, but keep watching for more!
Your final grade will be based on the following requirements, (1) in-class
participation (15%), (2) one class presentation (20%), (3) weekly assignments
(20%), and (4) a final term paper (45%).
Weekly Assignments: You are expected to carefully read
the selected texts for each session before the seminar meeting and come prepared
to discuss them. To help facilitate this, each week you are expected to write
a 1-3 page essay in which you (1) summarize the reading, (2) identify any
criticisms or points of discussion (including points in need of clarification)
involving the reading. These essays are due at the start of class on the
day on which we will be discussing the relevant readings. You will be graded
on 1-5 scale, with 1 representing a barely acceptable essay, 2 representing
a deeply problematic essay, that misrepresents the views of the philosopher
or philosophers in question or commits other abuses of philosophical method,
3 representing an essay that is slightly lacking in some area, but generally
acceptable, 4 representing a good essay that performs the desired tasks as
expected, and 5 representing an essay with substantial and original insight.
(You should never expect to receive anything above 4. A student receiving
a 4 on every assignment should still expect a good grade for this portion.
I will only award a 5 to an essay that surpasses my expectations.)
In determining your grade, I will take into account only your 9 highest scores
of 11 possible essays. This means you may either drop your two lowest scores,
or simply not write two essays (or combine the two options). You need not
prepare an assignment for the week you will be presenting.
Presentation: Early in the semester, each student will
choose (or be assigned) one week in which he or she is expected to give a
presentation on the readings for that week (approx. 20 minutes), to be given
at the beginning of the seminar meeting, and should also be prepared to lead
the discussion for that class period. The presentation should (1) summarize
the main points of the readings, though at his or her discretion the presenter
may focus on certain issues he or she finds most interesting, (2) identify
any questions or concerns the presenter has with understanding or interpreting
the material, which he or she would like to discuss in class, (3) critically
discuss one or more philosophical issues raised in the readings, as a starting
point for seminar discussion.
Term Paper: Each student is prepared to write a 15-25
page term paper that aims to contribute something original to the discussion
of any of the texts, philosophers or philosophical issues discussed in the
course. The paper should constitute critical and original discussion of the
philosophical issues raised within speech act theory. The amount of outside
research done for the paper is left to your discretion, but a careful search
of the relevant secondary material is strongly recommended. The paper is
due at the end of finals week.
E-mail Kevin at
firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or concerns.
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