Schedule and Supporting Materials

For a list of course policies, go here. Please review this document before asking me about course logistics.

Readings that are publicly accessible are hyperlinked below. All other readings are in password-protected directory accessible via the “Readings” tab above. The password is semlogcog. I will post copies of handouts and PowerPoint presentations by the end of each week. Should you miss a class, please ask another student for materials that you did not receive.

We will frequently try to forge connections between readings throughout the week. Bring past readings that will facilitate this task. I will present the specific readings in one-month increments, so as to be able to adapt the schedule according to the flow of discussion.







2/22 : No Class

2/24: Introduction

Syllabus & course policies.

Read Portner, “The Fundamental Question” in What is Meaning? [PPT] [Handout] [Video]

2/26: What is Semantics?

Read Kearns, Chapter 1 [PPT] [Handout]



3/1: The Semantics-Pragmatics Interface

Read Jaszczolt, K. M. (2012). Semantics and Pragmatics: The Boundary Issue. In K. von Heusinger, P. Portner, & C. Maienborn (Eds.), Semantics: An International Handbook of Natural Language Meaning, (Vol. 3, pp. 2333-2360). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter

[PPT] [Handout] [Video]

3/3: Propositional Semantics

Read Kearns, §2.1-§2.2; Read Priest, Ch. 0 (Mathematical Prolegomenon) and §1.1-§1.5

Suggested Background: Papineau, pp. 137-148

[PPT] [Handout] [Video]

3/5: Assignment 1   

(As with most other assignments, we will cover this in class.)




3/8  Theories of Truth

Glanzberg, Michael, “Truth“, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2018 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.)

Start Researching for Assignment 2

Click here to indicate which experiment you’ll be covering for this assignment.

[PPT] [Handout] [Video]

3/10 Material conditionals: linguistic challenges

Read Priest, §1.6-§1.10,

Read §1- §3.1 of Edgington, Dorothy, “Indicative Conditionals“, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2020 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.)

[PPT] [Handout] [Video]

Suggested Background:

Nickerson, Ch. 1-2

3/12 Material conditionals: psychological experiments

Read Nickerson, Ch. 3

[PPT] [Handout]



3/15 Material conditionals: psychological challenges

Nickerson, Chapter 5

[PPT] [Handout]


3/17 Has psychology shown that human beings are irrational?

Nickerson, Ch.5 continued

Read Gigerenzer, G. “Bounded and Rational”  in Stainton, R. (2006). Contemporary debates in cognitive science. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, pp. 115-133.

[PPT] [Handout] [Video]

3/19 Soundness & Completeness

Read Papineau, pp. 149-153; Read Priest, §1.11




3/22 How do we know that logic is right?

Read Boghossian, P. (2000). “Knowledge of Logic.” In Boghossian, P. & Peacocke, C. New essays on the a priori. Oxford: Oxford University Press.  Read through p. 238

[PPT] [Handout] [Video]


Boghossian, pp. 238-254.

[PPT] [Handout] [Video]


Da Costa, Newton C. A., Otávio Bueno, and Steven French. 1998. “Is there a Zande logic?”  History and Philosophy of Logic 19 (1): 41-54. 





3/29 Basic modal semantics:

Read Papineau, pp. 61-69; Read Priest, §2.1-§2.4

[PPT] [Handout] [Video]

3/31 Modal Realism

Read Priest, §2.5-§2.8

Read Bricker, P. and Melia, J. (2007) “Modality and Possible Worlds.” in Sider, T. Contemporary Debates in Metaphysics.  Malden: Wiley-Blackwell.

I’ll use this time to field any questions you may have about your take-home exam.

[PPT] [Handout] [Video]

4/2 Do Assignment 2

Take Home #1 due by 11:59PM Eastern Saturday 4/3





Normal modal logic:

Read Kearns, §5.1-§5.2

Read Priest, Ch. 3 (skip §3.7)

[PPT] [Handout] [Video]


Do Assignment 3

Start Researching for Assignments 4. 

Click here to indicate which article you’ll be covering for Assignment 4.



Break (No Classes)



4/12 Rule-Checking and Deontic Reasoning

Cosmides, L., and J. Tooby. 2008. “Can a general deontic logic capture the facts of human moral reasoning? How the mind interprets social exchange rules and detects cheaters.” In Moral psychology, Vol 1: The evolution of morality: Adaptations and innateness., 53-119. Cambridge, MA, US: Boston Review.

[PPT] [Handout] [Video]

4/14 Psychology of counterfactuals

Read Nickerson, Ch. 8

Do Assignment 4

[PPT] [Handout] [Video]


Class Cancelled (It is a VERY GOOD IDEA to use this extra time to complete Assignment 5)




Van Hoeck, Nicole, Patrick D. Watson, and Aron K. Barbey. 2015. “Cognitive neuroscience of human counterfactual reasoning.”  Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 9 (420).

Do Assignment 5

[PPT] [Handout] [Video]

4/21 Predicate semantics:

Read Kearns §2.3, Ch.3

Read Priest §12.1-§12.5

[PPT] [Handout] [Video]


Do Assignment 6.




4/26 Word Meaning

Hobbs, J. R. 2011. “Word meaning and world knowledge.” In Semantics: an international handbook of natural language meaning, edited by C. Maienborn, K. von Heusinger and P. Portner, 740-761. Berlin: De Gruyter.

We will focus on Sections 1-2 (pp. 740-751)

[PPT] [Handout] [Video]


Hobbs, continued. We will focus on pp. 751-760

[PPT] [Handout] [Video]


No Class




Break (No Classes)



Joan Vera, Dana Sugai, Riley Marchin

de Almeida, Roberto G., Forouzan Mobayyen, Caitlyn Antal, Eva Kehayia, Vasavan P. Nair, and George Schwartz. 2021. “Category-specific verb-semantic deficits in Alzheimer’s disease: Evidence from static and dynamic action naming.”  Cognitive Neuropsychology 38 (1):1-26. doi: 10.1080/02643294.2020.1858772.

[PPT] [Handout] [Video]




11:30 AM Section:

Maddie McKean and Elise Park

Stanovich, K. (2013). Why humans are (sometimes) less rational than other animals: Cognitive Complexity and the axioms of rational choice. Thinking & Reasoning, 19 (1): 1-26.

[PPT] [Handout] [Video]

1:50 PM Section: 

Lila Sternberg-Sher & Riley Board

Ravin, Y. and C. Leacock, “Polysemy: An Overview,” in Ravin, Y. and C. Leacock, eds. 2000. Polysemy: Theoretical & Computational Theories: pp. 1-21  (§1.1-§1.10)

[PPT] [Handout] [Video]





 Olivia Peterson and Niki Kowsar

Augustenborg, Claudia Carrara. 2010. “The Endogenous Feedback Network: A new approach to the comprehensive study of consciousness.”  Consciousness and Cognition 19 (2):547-579.

[PPT] [Handout] [Video]


Celeste Levy, Ethan Saxenian, Alex Lawson

Kearns, Chapter 10: Thematic Roles and Lexical Conceptual Structure (pp. 206-233)

[PPT] [Handout] [Video]


11:30AM Section:

Sean Lovett, Ian Lower, && Michael Gallagher

Churchland, P. M. (1995). The Engine of Reason, the Seat of the Soul : A Philosophical Journey Into the Brain. MIT Press: pp. 227-252.

[PPT] [Handout] [Video]

1:50 PM Section:

Max Padilla, Elsa Korpi, and Toby Weed

Rooy, Robert van. 2003. “Being polite is a handicap: towards a game theoretical analysis of polite linguistic behavior.” Proceedings of the 9th conference on Theoretical aspects of rationality and knowledge, University of Indiana, Indiana.

[PPT] [Handout] [Video]




Jennie Bob Bizal-Clark, Ryan Opiela-Young,  Rachel Flatt 

Kearns, John T. 1997. “Propositional Logic of Supposition and Assertion.”  Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic 38 (3):325-349, 25.

[PPT] [Handout] [Video]


Joanne Park, Myles Maxie

Valian, Virginia, “Bilingualism and Cognition.” Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, vol. 18, no. 1, 2015, pp. 3-24.

[PPT] [Handout] [Video]


Last Day of Classes,
Last Day to Invoke CR/NCR Option

11:30AM Section:

Elaine Zhang, Ruiqi Xue

Wim De Neys, Walter Schaeken & Géry d’Ydewalle (2005)Working memory and everyday conditional reasoning: Retrieval and inhibition of stored counterexamples,” Thinking & Reasoning, 11:4, 349-381.

[PPT] [Handout] [Video]

1:50 PM Section:

Tasha Kleppner, Isabel Emsfeld, and Charles Aspegren

Effron, Daniel A. “It Could Have Been True: How Counterfactual Thoughts Reduce Condemnation of Falsehoods and Increase Political Polarization.” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, vol. 44, no. 5, 2018, pp. 729–745.

[PPT] [Handout] [Video]










Final Exams
Take Home #2 due by 11:59PM Eastern