This book offers readers a collection of 50 short chapter entries on topics in the philosophy of language. Each entry addresses a paradox, a longstanding puzzle, or a major theme that has emerged in the field from the last 150 years, tracing overlap with issues in philosophy of mind, cognitive science, ethics, political philosophy, and literature. Each of the 50 entries is written as a piece that can stand on its own, though useful connections to other entries are mentioned throughout the text. Readers can open the book and start with almost any of the entries, following themes of greatest interest to them. Each entry includes recommendations for further reading on the topic.
And even more than brassy, public self-promotion, I’m a believer in unchecked, enthusiastic acknowledgments when others contribute to my work. On that score, here’s that bit of front matter:
I want to thank Elizabeth Weimer for serving as my editorial assistant for much of the work done on this book. Let me also thank Washington and Jefferson College for recognizing the value of her work and supporting our efforts. I also got a great deal of useful advice and feedback from Helen Daly, Kate Vanier, and Sam Stewart.
There are a few other things I should say about this book. A few years ago, my friend Chauncey Maher said that I needed to write a book on the philosophy of language. He said this in such flattering, Michael-Padraic-Wolf-affirming terms that I assumed he was going to hit me up for a ride to the airport later, but it all appears to have been sincere. A couple years later, Andy Beck from Routledge told me that he had read some of my work and thought I should write a book on the philosophy of language. At that point, with two exceptionally smart people making the same case, how could I refuse? My thanks to both of them for their encouragement in taking on such a project.