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What is a Theory of Meaning?


Admission requirements

Admission to one of the following programmes is required:

  • MA Philosophy 60 EC: specialisation History and Philosophy of the Sciences

  • MA Philosophy 120 EC: specialisation Philosophy of Natural Sciences

  • MA Philosophy 120 EC: specialisation Philosophy of Psychology


Sir Michael Dummett 1925-2011 was one of the formeost philosophers of the last third of the 20th century, and his magisterial article What is a Theory of Meaning? II from 1975 remains his most characteristic piece of writing. In the course we shall have occasion to give it a close reading and to try to evaluate Dummett’s Antirealism, its reaction to Davidson’s Tarski-inspired work, and Dummett’s realiance on themes from Brouwer’s Intuitionism for his alternative conception of meaning.

Course objectives

Students who successfully complete the course will have a good understanding of:

  • Dummett's conception of a meaning theory and its relation to the Fregean theory of sense and reference;

  • Dummett's anti-realist argumetation agains bivalent truth as a key-concept in the theory of meaning;

  • the constructive explanation of a proposition in terms of proof.

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  • discuss issues regarding the The Theory of Meaning with some insight orally and in writing.


The timetable is available on the MA Philosophy 60 EC website and the MA Philosophy 120 EC website

Mode of instruction

  • Seminars

Class attendance is required.

Course Load

Total course load 10 EC x 28 hours = 280 hours

Calculation of the course load to be announced.

Assessment method


  • Active participation during the course in terms of discussion and research assignments according to previous knowledge

  • Mid-term preparation of presentation

  • Written final paper on a topic decided in consultation with the course teacher drawing upon secondary literature


The final mark for the course is established by determination of the weighted average of several subtests. A subtest can be graded as unsatisfactory.
Class attendance and completion of practical assignments such as the oral presentation is required – without sufficient attendance students will be excluded from submitting a final paper.


The resit will consists of a paper. The mark for the resit will replace all previously earned marks for subtests.No separate resits will be offered for mid-term tests.
Class attendance and participation is a mandatory requirement for taking the resit. Students who have obtained a satisfactory grade for the first examination(s) cannot take the resit.

Exam review

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.


Blackboard will be used for:

  • announcements

  • distribution of texts

  • distribution of reading assignments

Reading list

To be announced.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

Students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number, which can be found in the timetables for courses and exams.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Prof.dr. B.G. Sundholm


Not applicable.