Friederike Moltmann » Teaching » Compact Course 'Natural Language Metaphysics', IHPST, Paris, May 22-23 and September 7, 2017
Compact Course 'Natural Language Metaphysics', IHPST, Paris, May 22-23 and September 7, 2017

Date: May 22, 2017


Place:  Grande salle, IHPST, 13 rue due Four, 75006 Paris


Monday, May 22, 2017: 11h-13h and 15h-17h

Handout 1: Descriptive and Revisionary Metaphysics and Criteria for Objecthood

Handout 2: Existence and Natural Language

Tuesday, May 23, 2017: 11h-13h

Handout 3: Roles of Entities in the Semantic Structure of Sentences and the Notion of a Situation

Thursday, September 7, 2017: 14-18h

Handout 4: Events and Situationsand Truthmaking in Semantics

Handout 5: Part-Related Expressions and the Part Structure of Content



Metaphysics in the past was considered mainly a pursuit of philosophers, asking questions about being in most general terms. While some philosophers made appeal to natural language in order to argue for a ontological category or metaphysical notion, others have rejected such an appeal arguing that the ontology reflected in language diverges significantly from what there really is, from any philosophically accepted ontology. Whatever one’s view may be of what a philosopher should pursue, it has become clear, especially with the development of natural language semantics (and syntax), that the metaphysics reflected in natural language is an important object of study in itself, as the subject matter of natural language ontology or more generally natural language metaphysics. This compact course gives an overview of the sort of appeals philosophers have made to natural language, of the ways natural language reflects ontological notions and structures, of cases of discrepancies between the ontology implicit in natural language and the reflective ontology of philosophers or non-philosophers, and of the ways the relation of natural language metaphysics can be conceived with respect to other projects in metaphysics.


Recommended reading

'Natural Language Ontology'. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Linguistics. Oxford UP, New York, 2017 (online).