Academic year
2020/2021 Syllabus of previous years
Official course title
Course code
FT0518 (AF:332016 AR:179082)
On campus classes
ECTS credits
Degree level
Bachelor's Degree Programme
Educational sector code
1st Term
Course year
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The course is included among the educational activities of the Bachelor Degree Programme in Philosophy. It aims to provide the basic tools for a philosophical approach to the study of human communication.
What is communication and what is it for? What makes it possible? What cognitive resources are exploited in our communicative exchanges? What theoretical models are more useful to account for the complex features of this phenomenon? What can philosophy teach about communication, and what can the study of communication teach about other philosophical issues? The course of Philosophy of Communication addresses these classical topics of Western philosophy by considering their developments in contemporary thought, especially in the field of pragmatics. In this way, students acquire both a historical and theoretical framework, learn and master conceptual and methodological tools, and develop the ability to critically analyze the devices of personal and social communication.
1. Knowledge and comprehension:
- Mastering the technical vocabulary adopted in pragmatics and related disciplines.
- Knowing the fundamental features that characterize the phenomenon of human communication and the aspects of it that are more difficult to explain.
- Knowing the linguistic, cognitive, and social phenomena that are relevant to the understanding of communicative phenomena.
- Knowing the different theoretical models that are available in the contemporary debate on communication.
- Understanding the phenomenon of implicit communication in its various forms and understanding its theoretical and ethical implications.

2. Ability to apply knowledge and comprehension:
- Ability to correctly use the acquired vocabulary to describe and analyze the relevant phenomena and to discuss the various models presented.
- Ability to recognize and explain the main pragmatic phenomena.
- In particular, ability to recognize and explain the presence of implicit contents.

3. Judgment ability:
- Ability to evaluate the pros and cons of the different communicative strategies that are available to speakers, by considering both their effectiveness and their ethical and relational implications.
- Ability to discuss by means of arguments the various theories presented during classes.
The are no specific prerequisites. However, the course requires a solid general background, a very good mastery of language, and an aptitude for reasoning and rational argumentation.
1. Communication and code:
- What is communication?
- The code model

2. Communication and inferences:
- Grice's theory of conversation
- Expectations and implicatures
- From the code model to the inferential model

3. Communication and cognition:
- Relevance theory
- Implicatures and relevance
- Codes and inferences: an assessment

4. Communication and presupposition:
- Origin of the concept of presupposition
- Presupposition as a form of implicit communication
- The pragmatic approach

5. Presupposition and accommodation:
- The language game
- Background assumptions and conversational score
- P. Grice, "Logic and Conversation", 1975.
- R.C. Stalnaker, "Presuppositions", 1973.
- D. Lewis, “Scorekeeping in a Language Game”, 1979.
- D. Sperber and D. Wilson, Relevance: Communication and Cognition. 2nd ed. Blackwell, Oxford 1995, only the following pages: pp. 1-15 and 38-54.
- W. Lycan, "Philosophy of Language: A Contemporary Introduction", Routledge, London, only chapter 13: "Implicative Relations".

Students who do not attend the lessons should also read:
- C. Bianchi, "Pragmatica del linguaggio", Laterza 2003 (or an equivalent handbook in English to be agreed with the lecturer).
Written proof. Open questions concerning the contents of the course and the texts in the syllabus.
Traditional lectures.
Use of power point.
Analysis of texts and argumentative structures.
Students' interventions and questions are strongly encouraged.
Accessibility, Disability and Inclusion

Ca' Foscari abides by Italian Law (Law 17/1999; Law 170/2010) regarding support services and accommodation available to students with disabilities. This includes students with mobility, visual, hearing and other disabilities (Law 17/1999), and specific learning impairments (Law 170/2010). If you have a disability or impairment that requires accommodations (i.e., alternate testing, readers, note takers or interpreters) please contact the Disability and Accessibility Offices in Student Services:
Definitive programme.
Last update of the programme: 13/09/2020