Meaning and Use: Philosophy of Language


What kind of actions can we perform with our words? What is the relationship between the meaning of an utterance and the context in which the utterance is produced?

This day school attempts to introduce you to one of the dominant contemporary traditions in the Anglo-American analytic philosophy of language. Philosophy of language is mostly concerned with the role that language plays in our thinking. We will explore how language works, to determine when (and how) we speak meaningfully in different contexts. How do we understand each other’s intentions in our communications? How language users interpret words and signs?

We will also examine how people use their cultural background and assumption, even unconsciously, in their interpretation and conversation. To get a grasp on this, we will particularly study the Speech Act theory, Implicatures and the Cooperative Principle, Embodied Cognition, and Conceptual Metaphors. These theories and principles give us different tools to analyse natural language in a consistent way.

Programme details

9.45am: Registration

10.00am: Speech Act Theory – what kind of actions can we perform with our words?

11.30am: Coffee/tea

12 noon: Implicature and the Cooperative Principle – how do we communicate “meaningfully”?

1.00pm: Lunch

2.00pm: Embodied Cognition and Cognitive Linguistics

3.30pm: Tea/coffee

4.00pm: Conceptual Metaphors

5.00pm: Q&A

5.30pm: Course disperses


Description Costs
Tuition - in-person attendance £80.00
Tuition - virtual attendance £80.00
Baguette £5.50
Hot Lunch (three courses) £15.50


If you are in receipt of a state benefit you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees.

If you do not qualify for the concessionary fee but are experiencing financial hardship, you may still be eligible for financial assistance.

Concessionary fees for short courses


Dr Hossein Dabbagh


As well as being a Philosophy tutor at the University of Oxford’s Department of Continuing Education, Hossein Dabbagh is currently working as Research Officer at the Institute of Ismaili Studies, Aga Khan Centre. He is also Honorary Research Fellow at the UCL Institute of Education.

Dr Doug Bamford


Tutor in Philosophy and Political Economy, OUDCE


Accommodation is not included in the price, but if you wish to stay with us the night before the course, then plesae contact our Residential Centre.

Accommodation in Rewley House - all bedrooms are modern, comfortably furnished and each room has tea and coffee making facilities, Freeview television, and Free WiFi and private bath or shower rooms.  Please contact our Residential Centre on +44 (0) 1865 270362 or email for details of availability and discounted prices.

IT requirements

You can opt to attend this hybrid teaching event either online (via a livestream) or in person at Rewley House, Oxford. You will be given the option of how you wish to attend during the enrolment process. You can only pick one option. If your preferred attendance format is fully booked, you can email us to be put on the waiting list.

For those joining us online

The University of Oxford uses Microsoft Teams for our learning environment. If you’re attending online, you’ll be able to see and hear the speakers, and to submit questions via the Teams interface. Joining instructions will be sent out prior to the start date. We recommend that you join the session at least 10-15 minutes prior to the start time – just as you might arrive a bit early at our lecture theatre for an in-person event.

If you have not used the Microsoft Teams app before, once you click the joining link you will be invited to download it (this is free). Once you have downloaded the app, please test before the start of your course. If you are using a laptop or desktop computer, you will also be offered the option of connecting using a web browser. If you connect via a web browser, Chrome is recommended.

Please note that this course will not be recorded.