Linguistic Theories

Following the guidelines indicated above and in the writing resources attached, respond to one of the following four prompts in an argumentative paper:
1. Outline and defend one of the theories of linguistic meaning that we have examined in the course. This will include assessing at least one criticism of the theory we examined in the course and providing a response to that criticism.

2. Drawing on relevant philosophers and using your own example(s), explain the
distinction between attributive and referential uses of definite descriptions, as well as
the broader debate from which this distinction emerged. Outline and support a position in this debate.

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3. Drawing on an original example or set of examples and the views of 2-3 philosophers we have examined in class (e.g., Davidson and Grice), outline and defend an account of how communication is cooperative.

4. Using your own example(s) of malapropisms in action and drawing on his notions of
prior and passing theory, explain how and why Davidson concludes that there is no
such thing as a language (as we tend to know it). Outline and defend your position on
his view.

Please read and follow these instructions carefully.
Your paper should be approximately 1500 words long. You won’t be penalized for being slightly (~100 words) under or over the word count but please do not substantially surpass this word limit. The paper is worth 30% of your final course grade.

Your work will be graded on both style and content (see grading rubric for clarification). Your papers should demonstrate a strong grasp of the directly relevant material as well as some background concepts and debates, and you are expected to state and defend a clear thesis.
Keep in mind that successfully defending a position requires giving strong reasons for holding that position, as well as considering and responding to at least one objection. While it is most important for you to write clearly, accurately, and rigorously on the relevant material, you are also encouraged to demonstrate some original thought and, where possible, to use your own examples to help support your analysis and argument.

It is extremely important that you cite all your sources. I’m not picky about citation style;
just make sure that your citations are clear, specific, and reasonably consistent. Keep in mind
that you must cite page numbers when quoting or directly paraphrasing the material.
You are not expected to use external sources but are free to do so. In any case, you
should be mainly drawing on the course material. If your sources are all from the course and
have the same pagination as the course texts, you do not need to include a separate
references page. If you do use any outside or different sources, you must include a
references list with full bibliographic information for each source.

Whichever topic you choose, you are expected to apply course concepts and to draw
directly and substantially at least two course readings.

Please submit the paper as a Word document, as this facilitates providing comments via
tracked changes. Your papers should be written in 12-point font and double-spaced. You do
not need a title page. At the top of your first page, indicate your full name and/or student
number, the topic number, the date, and your word count.

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