Academic year
2023/2024 Syllabus of previous years
Official course title
Course code
FM0090 (AF:448601 AR:252242)
On campus classes
ECTS credits
Degree level
Master's Degree Programme (DM270)
Educational sector code
3rd Term
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The course is scheduled among the core educational activities of the MA degree programmes in Philosophical Sciences and in History of Arts and Conservation of Artistic Heritage. It contributes to the educational targets of the "theoretical area" by providing specialized competences concerning the main issues in both traditional (especially modern) and contemporary philosophy of language. By focusing on the study of classic works in this discipline, the course promotes a critical approach to topics that are central for the current philosophical-linguistic debate.
The course aims to provide the following knowledge, competences and abilities:
1) Knowledge and understanding:
- knowoledge of the classics of the discipline as well as of the main figures of the contemporary debate;
- understanding of both traditional and contemporary key texts of the discipline;
- knowledge and understanding of specialized issues that have characterized the evolution of the philosophy of language in the shift from the traditional reflection on linguistic signs to the formal approach developed by contemporary analytic philosophy.
2) Ability to apply knowledge and understanding:
- development of an independent approach and a criticial-constructive attitude towards the great philosophical-linguistic questions;
- ability to produce sound arguments to support a claim;
- ability to use example and counterexamples;
- ability to distinguish the main theoretical options concerning a given philosophical-linguistic issue.
3) Judgment ability:
- ability to establish links between (apparently different or unrelated) topics and positions;
- ability to evaluate the consistency and plausibility of a given philosophical-linguistic claim, also by considering examples and counterexamples;
- ability to grasp and develop the theoretical and practical implications of the different philosophical options available.
No mandatory prerequisite. Some basic knowledge of the philosophy of language and of elementary logic may be helpful. So will be a basic knowledge of the history of modern and contemporary philosophy. However, all the fundamental concepts will be explained during the course.
The course is about the relationship between language and fiction in contemporary philosophy as well as in the history of western philosophy. Our focus will be both on how the philosophy of language can address the theoretical issues raised by fiction (especially literary fiction), and on how the study of fiction can help clarify concepts and problems that belong to the philosophy of language and other related disciplines. By reading classics and contemporary texts, we will considers questions such as the following:
- What is fiction?
- What is the nature of fictional objects and characters?
- Does it make any sense to talk of truth and falsity with reference to fiction?
- How can the theoretical investigation of fiction contribute to our understanding of the nature of language?
Mandatory readings:

A.G. BAUMGARTEN, “Estetica”, Aesthetica Edizioni 2020, pp. 174-213.
A.G. BAUMGARTEN, “Riflessioni sulla poesia”, Aesthetica Edizioni 2020: only the passages indicated by the lecturer.
M.J. CRESSWELL, "Possible Worlds", in "Studia poetica", 2, pp. 6-16.
G. FREGE, “Senso, funzione e concetto. Scritti filosofici”, a cura di C. Penco e E. Picardi, Laterza 2005: only pp. 32-57 (“Senso e significato) and 112-144 (“Logica”).
S. KRIPKE, "Reference and Existence", Oxford UP 2013: only Lecture I and Lecture II.
G.W. LEIBNIZ, “Essays on Theodicy": First Part (only §§ 1-10), Second Part (only §§ 168-174), and Third Part (only §§ 405-417).
D. LEWIS, “Truth in Fiction”, American Philosophical Quarterly 15 (1978), pp. 37-46.
K. WALTON, “Mimesis as Make-Believe”, Harvard University Press 1990 (only selected chapters)

Optional readings:

AA. VV., "Do Ficta Follow Fiction?", special issue of "Dialectica", 57/2 (2003):
E.J. ASHWORTH, "Chimeras and Imaginary Objects: A Study in the Post-Medieval Theory of Signification", in "Vivarium" 15 (1977), pp. 57-79.
G. CURRIE, “The Nature of Fiction”, Cambridge University Press 1990.
G. FREGE, "Il pensiero", in Frege, "Ricerche logiche", Guerini 1988.
L. DOLEZEL, "Heterocosmica: Fiction and Possible Worlds", John Hopkins UP, 1998.
G.W. LEIBNIZ, "L'armonia delle lingue", a cura di S. Gensini, Laterza.
G.W. LEIBNIZ, "Scritti di logica", a cura di F. Barone, Laterza.
G. SPOLAORE, "Logos in fabula. Un'indagine filosofica sui personaggi letterari", Mimesis 2009.
P. VAN INWAGEN, “Creatures of Fiction”, American Philosophical Quarterly 14 (1977), pp. 299-308.
A short essay + oral exam.
The topic of the short essay is chosen by the student, but must be relevant to the program (it is recommend to consult the lecturer before writing the essay).
The essay must not exceed 18.000 characters (including spaces) and must be submitted by email to the lecturer at least one week before the oral exam.
The oral exam will be about both the mandatory readings and the essay.
The lecturer will introduce the main topics, authors, and texts. Students are expected to actively contribute to the lessons by asking questions and debating issues. It is possible (but not mandatory) to present one's own written essay during a lesson (in this case, the oral exam will be only about the mandatory readings).
Some texts in English will be also made available in an Italian translation.
Definitive programme.
Last update of the programme: 24/03/2024