Wednesday, 26 August 2015
Friday, 21 August 2015
(Cross-posted in NewAPPS)
There is a Bloomsbury Philosophical Methodology Reader in the making, being edited by Joachim Horvath (Cologne). Joachim asked me to edit the section on formal methods, which will contain four papers: Tarski's 'On the concept of following logically', excerpts from Carnap's Logical Foundations of Probability, Hansson's 2000 'Formalization in philosophy', and a commissioned new piece by Michael Titelbaum focusing in particular (though not exclusively) on Bayesian epistemology. It will also contain a brief introduction to the topic by me, which I will post in two installments. Here is part I: comments welcome!
Tuesday, 18 August 2015
Thus, in the first two chapters of Rigor and Structure, Burgess asks two questions: What is mathematical rigor? Why did mathematicians strive so hard to achieve it throughout the period just described? To answer the first question, Burgess turns initially to the pronouncements of mathematicians themselves, but he finds little that is precise enough to satisfy a philosopher there. So he turns next to Aristotle and, looking to the Posterior Analytics, extracts the following suggestion:
Mathematical rigor requires that:
- ''every new proposition must be deduced from previously established propositions'';
- ''every new notion must be defined in terms of previously explained notions'';
- there are primitive notions from which the chain of definitions begins;
- there are primitive postulates from which the chain of deductions begins;
- ''the meaning of the primitives and the truth of the postulates must be evident''.
Monday, 27 July 2015
For those who haven't yet come across these, I have two new initiatives relating to women in logic to advertise:
- Women in Logic group on Facebook: "A group for women in Logic, philosophical, mathematical or computational. or any other kind of formal logic that you care about." Membership is not restricted to women.
- Female Professors of Logic, an editable google spreadsheet. One outcome of this will be to give a list of people who should have wikipedia pages if they don't already.
Please share widely and contribute as you can.
© 2015 Sara L. Uckelman
Tuesday, 21 July 2015
- Interlocutor 1 commits to A (either prompted by a question from interlocutor 2, or spontaneously), which corresponds to assuming the initial hypothesis.
- Interlocutor 2 leads the initial hypothesis to absurdity, typically by relying on additional discursive commitments of 1 (which may be elicited by 2 through questions).
- Interlocutor 2 concludes ~A.
Monday, 20 July 2015
Funded by the Canadian Journal of Philosophy, the University of Wisconsin, and a gift from Rodney J. Blackman.
Friday, 17 July 2015
Thursday, 16 July 2015
(Cross-posted at NewAPPS)
This is the fourth installment of my series of posts on reductio ad absurdum arguments from a dialogical perspective. Here is Part I, here is Part II, and here is Part III. In this post I offer a précis of the dialogical account of deduction which I have been developing over the last years, which will then allow me to return to the issue of reductio arguments equipped with a new perspective in the next installments. I have presented the basics of this conception in previous posts, but some details of the account have changed, and so it seems like a good idea to spell it out again.
Wednesday, 15 July 2015
Tuesday, 14 July 2015
(Cross-posted at NewAPPS)
This is a series of posts with sections of the paper on reductio ad absurdum from a dialogical perspective that I am working on right now. This is Part II, here is Part I. In this post I discuss issues in connection with the first step in a reductio argument, that of assuming the impossible.
Monday, 13 July 2015
(Cross-posted at NewAPPS)
As some readers may recall, I ran a couple of posts on reductio proofs from a dialogical perspective quite some time ago (here and here). I am now *finally* writing the paper where I systematize the account. In the coming days I'll be posting sections of the paper; as always, feedback is most welcome! The first part will focus on what seem to be the cognitive challenges that reasoners face when formulating reductio arguments.
My 3.5 year old daughter has apparently been learning about opposites at nursery, because all weekend she was popping out such gems as "You know what are opposites? Big and little!" (Hot and cold, up and down, in and out, etc., etc., etc.). Sunday evening while we were getting supper read, she proceeded to play underfoot with a balloon she'd been given at a birthday party earlier in the day. This was increasingly irritating until she came out with:
"Do you know what are opposites? No balloon and some balloon!"
Logical parenting: Ur doin it right.
Of course, I was curious to know if she could extrapolate, so I asked her what the opposite of "All balloons" was. Her reply was "No balloon", which I couldn't complain about, because, after all, I hadn't specified whether I was looking for the contradictory opposite or the contrary opposite. Being the proud parent I was, I relayed the story on FB, and was amused at the selection of half-joking, half-serious suggestions I got for the opposite of "all balloons": Negative balloons? Impossible balloons? The square root of minus one balloons? i balloons? But it also made me think: The usual Aristotelian quantifier opposed to 'all' is 'some____not'. But "Some balloons not" doesn't make any sense. You can have "all balloons", you can have "no balloons", you can have "some balloons", but you can't have "some balloons not" ; if you want to use that quantifier, there needs to be more than just a quantified subject, there has to be a predicate, too. The same is not true of the non-Aristotelian form of the negation, 'not all': While you can't have "some balloons not", you can have #notallballoons.
Reflecting on this on the way home this evening, I was reminded of how Abelard made this very distinction, between non omnis and quidam non, arguing that these two are not equivalent with each other: non omnis does not have existential import, while quidam non always does. Many people think that making a distinction between 'not all' and 'some____not' is only necessary in a context where 'all' has existential import; but perhaps Abelard's insight that non omnis and quidam non are not equivalent reflects something deeper than just logical machinery to deal with a problematic assumption about universal quantifiers.
 This is, essentially, just the well-known observation that there is no single natural language English term 'nall'.
© 2015, Sara L. Uckelman
Tuesday, 23 June 2015
This afternoon Catarina commented on FB about the glaring lack of women logicians in the currently-being-edited Cambridge Companion to Medieval Logic. It's a topic that I've recently bumped heads with myself when trying to tread the line between encouraging my department to draw their curricula from a wide variety of sources, not just in terms of gender but also in terms of time and geography, while also ensuring that no rigorous quota for women authors was instituted as departmental policy, for while there are certainly a number of good secondary authors on medieval logic who are women, were I to ever teach a course dedicated to medieval logic, semantics, and philosophy of language, I didn't want to be put into a place of being required to teach women who don't exist.
But is it true that they don't exist? The conversation on the FB pointed out at the commonly held view of women being barred from higher education is a false one , with women being allowed at Italian universities, which even had female professors such as Maria di Novella, who became professor of mathematics at Bologna at the age of 25. (On the question of the percentage of women students in Italy, J.J. Walsh in The Thirteenth: Greatest of Centuries comments that matriculation lists tell us "very little that is absolute with respect to the sex of the matriculates" because "not a few girls are called by men's names and without the feminine termination which is so distinctive among the English speaking peoples [and] in olden times this was still more the case". Putting on my onomastic hat, I must point out that this is incorrect. While, yes, many names which are considered strongly gendered nowadays were used by both men and women in the Middle Ages, it was in English, not Italian, contexts where the gender of the person is not indicated by a feminine ending. Furthermore, the matriculation lists would've been written in Latin, an inherently gendered language. It is in general extremely easy to determine the gender of the bearer of a name recorded in Latin; it is only in cases where the Latinization is very light, such as in the Latinization of some names of Germanic origin, that it can be ambiguous. Germanic names, however, never had the strong foothold in Italy that they did in France and Germany, with names of Latin or Etruscan origin making up the majority of the name-pool. And even then, a trained onomastic will know that a Latinized name ending in -burg (as opposed to the explicitly marked -burgus or -burga / -burgis) is much more likely to be female than male, whereas one ending in -wald (again as opposed to the explicitly marked -waldus or -walda) is more likely to be male than female.) Unfortunately, I believe Bologna is treated in vol. 1 of Rashdall's Medieval Universities, which is the volume I don't own, so any further discussion of female professors there will have to be relegated to another post. In vol. 3 of Rashdall, there is a brief mention of women in connection to the University of Salamanca, founded c. 1227-8:
Salamanca is not perhaps precisely the place where one would look for early precedents for the higher education of women. Yet it was from Salamanca that Isabella the Catholic is said to have summoned Doña Beatriz Galindo to teach her Latin long before the Protestant Elizabeth put herself to school under Ascham [p. 88].
Beatriz Galindo was born sometime around 1465 in Salamanca, and studied grammar at one of the university's dependent institutions. She taught philosophy and medicine at Salamanca, and a commentary on Aristotle, Notas y comentarios sobre Aristóteles, is attributed to her (cf. S. Knight & S. Tilg, The Oxford Handbook of Neo-Latin, p. 367, and J. Stevenson, Women Latin Poets, p. 204). Little on the Notas appears to be available in English.
The answer to the question of whether there were women logicians in the Middle Ages depends, of course, on how 'logician' is defined (and also on how 'Middle Ages' is defined, but I'll let myself interpret that period very liberally here). One way would be to take it narrowly, and look for women who taught logic at the university level, or who wrote treatises with topics and titles that are clearly connected to the logical canon: Treatises on syllogisms, on the Organon, on consequences, on insolubles, on sophisms, on supposition, on syncategorematic terms, on obligationes. On that view, finding someone who qualifies may indeed be difficult.
A more fruitful approach would be to treat the subject broadly, as indeed it was treated in the Middle Ages, where dialectic included grammar and rhetoric along with logic, look at women who employed or commented on logical techniques, or who participated in philosophical methodology more broadly, or who even, by other means, provide us with evidence concerning the educational milieu and opportunities for women. On this view, we would be remiss if we didn't mention such women as:
- Dhuoda: Dhuoda, aka Dodana or Duodena, lived in the 9th C. She married the son of a cousin of Charlemagne around 824, and their first son, William, was born two years later. Another son, Bernard, was born 15 years later, and during the next two years, Dhuoda wrote a moral handbook for her sons, the Liber Manualis (a rather poor scan of a portion of the Liber Manualis is available here). The Manual was a guide to good conduct, and is the only known work by a Carolingian woman known to have survived. It is useful as a guide to the type of education that a woman of relatively high social status would have had during this period (there is evidence that she is familiar with the grammarian Donatus, cf. ch. 8 of M. Thiébaux, The Writings of Medieval Women: An Anthology, and she also cites Isidore's etymology of oratio 'prayer' as oris ratio 'the reason of the mouth'). The Manual has chapters on such diverse topics as "the mystery of the Trinity", "how to pray and for whom", "social order and secular success", "interpreting numbers", and "the usefulness of reciting the Psalms". From the point of view of someone who is interested in medieval female logicians, philosophers, or mathematicians, that section on "interpreting numbers" looks of relevance. Alas, it in fact turns out to be an interesting excursus into numerology! (Numerological reasoning is also found in books 1, 4, and 6.)
- Hildegard of Bingen: Hildegard von Bingen as born in Germany at the end of the 11th C. She was broadly educated, writing both fiction and non-fiction, including works in botany and medicine. Her significance in the context of medieval dialectics likes not on the side of logic but rather in rhetoric: As a theologian, she not only wrote letters and poems but also was a traveling preacher. Her contributions to and her place in the history of rhetoric are well documented.
- Eloise d'Argenteuil: Eloise hardly needs introduction to logicians, as her name is well-known as it has been co-opted as the name of the existential player in two-player logic/semantic games. While we have no explicitly logical writings (in the narrow sense defined above) by her, you cannot work so closely with a logician for as long as she without absorbing some of its influence (being married a logician myself, I can attest to this; as can he, most likely), and, after Abelard's death, Peter of Cluny in a letter to her complimented her on the fact that she had "left logic for the gospel, Plato for Christ, the Academy for the clositer" (quoted in H. M. Jewell, Women In Dark Age And Early Medieval Europe c.500-1200). A complete understanding of the academic and social milieu of logic and philosophy in the mid 12th century would not be possible without knowledge of her writings.
- Christine de Pizan: Christine de Pizan was born in Venice in the middle of the 14th C, but spent most of her adult life in France, later living and working amongst many of the French ducal and royal courts. She's best known for her courtly poetry, but she also wrote books of practical advice for women, and her two most important prose works are The Book of the City of Ladies and The Treasure of the City of Ladies. In the former, she enters into a dialogue with the allegorical figures of Reason, Justice, and Rectitude, all in the female perspective. Both books are written in a highly skilled dialectical style, the study of which would provide interesting insight into the relationship between women's education and the classical disciplines of logic, rhetoric, and dialectic as taught in Italy and Paris at the end of the 14th C. So far, I have found very little that explicitly discuss this question; two articles I have found (but haven't yet had a chance to read) are J. D. Burnley, "Christine de Pizan and the So-Called Style Clergial", The Modern Language Review 81, no. 1 (Jan. 1986): 1-6, and C. M. Laennec, "Unladylike Polemics: Christine de Pizan's Strategies of Attack and Defense", Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature 12, no. 1 (1993): 47-59.
- Julian of Norwich: Julian of Norwich was born in Norwich around 1342, thus almost exactly Christine's contemporary, and is the first woman known to have written in Middle English. She is best described as a mystic theologian, rather than a philosopher, and so may be considered outside the relevant scope. However, her "Long Text" (~63,000 words, called such in contrast with the earlier "Short Text" of ~11,000 words) is a treatise reflecting on a set of divine visions that she had after an illness in 1373. While the Short Text was primarily a simple account of the visions, in the Long Text she seeks to understand their meaning and signfication. While there is little in terms of explicit discussion of theories of signification, the fact that questions of meaning pervade the text is clear. "Woldst thou wetten this lord mening in this thing?" she asks, and answers that "love was his mening". As with Christine above, I have found very little secondary literature which discusses the semantic or significative theory underpinning Julian's "Long Text", but I suspect that a close examination of this text in such a light would prove extremely fruitful and interesting. (But see footnote 6 of V. Gillespie and M. Ross, "'With Mekeness Aske Perseverantly': On Reading Julian of Norwich", Mystics Quarterly 30, nos. 3/4 (2004): 126-141, and the reference cited therein.)
These women may not be logicians strictly speaking, but reading them and their works can inform our knowledge of developments in dialectic and its applications in the Middle Ages.
Finally, I'd like to share a brief reference I found in the lyrics of the troubadours to women and dialectic. In the 13th C Occitan romance Flamenca, two young women, Flamenca and Margarida, are engaged in rewriting some poetry for Margarida to send to her lover, and in the process, Flamenca speaks highly of Margarida's skill in 'dialectic':
Flamenca said to her, "Who has taught you,
Margarida, who has shown you---
by the faith you owe me---such dialectic? (5441-5443)
(From Thiébaux, op. cit., p. 244.)
This post is but a smattering of information that was easily available via books I have on hand and the internet; but I hope it will provide a beginning for a larger account of the contributions of women to dialectic in the Middle Ages!
 It was, however, true for England until the early 19th C; see A. Cobban, English University Life in the Middle Ages, pp. 1-2.
© 2015, Sara L. Uckelman.
Tuesday, 2 June 2015
University of Turin
Lecture Hall (ground floor)
Wednesday, 20 May 2015
The programme intersects several topics in the philosophy of set theory and of mathematics, such as the nature of mathematical (set-theoretic) truth, the universe/multiverse dichotomy, the alternative conceptions of the set-theoretic multiverse, the conceptual and epistemological status of new axioms and their alternative justificatory frameworks.
The aim of SotFoM III+The Hyperuniverse Programme Joint Conference is to bring together scholars who, over the last years, have contributed mathematically and philosophically to the ongoing work and debate on the foundations and the philosophy of set theory, in particular, to the understanding and the elucidation of the aforementioned topics. The three-day conference, taking place September 21-23 at the KGRC in Vienna, will feature invited and contributed speakers.
T. Arrigoni (Bruno Kessler Foundation)
G. Hellman (Minnesota)
P. Koellner (Harvard)
M. Leng (York)
Ø. Linnebo (Oslo)
W.H. Woodin (Harvard)
I. Jané (Barcelona) [TBC]
Call for papers
We invite (especially young) scholars to send their papers/abstracts, addressing one of the following topical strands:
– new set-theoretic axioms
– forms of justification of the axioms and their status within the philosophy of mathematics
– conceptions of the universe of sets
– conceptions of the set-theoretic multiverse
– the role and importance of new axioms for non-set-theoretic mathematics
– the Hyperuniverse Programme and its features
– alternative axiomatisations and their role for the foundations of mathematics
Papers should be prepared for blind review and submitted through EasyChair on the following page:
We especially encourage female scholars to send us their contributions. Accommodation expenses for contributed speakers will be covered by the KGRC.
Submission deadline: 15 June 2015
Notification of acceptance: 15 July 2015
For further information, please contact:
sotfom [at] gmail [dot] com
or alternatively one of:
Carolin Antos-Kuby (carolin [dot] antos-kuby [at] univie [dot] ac [dot] at)
Neil Barton (bartonna [at] gmail [dot] com)
Claudio Ternullo (ternulc7 [at] univie [dot] ac [dot] at)
John Wigglesworth (jmwigglesworth [at] gmail [dot] com)
Friday, 1 May 2015
The Fifth International Conference on Logic, Rationality and Interaction (LORI-V)
October 28-31, 2015, Taipei, Taiwan
The International Conference on Logic, Rationality and Interaction (LORI) conference series aims at bringing together researchers working on a wide variety of logic-related fields that concern the understanding of rationality and interaction (http://golori.org). The series aims at fostering a view of Logic as an interdisciplinary endeavor, and supports the creation of an East-Asian community of interdisciplinary researchers.
Submitted papers should be at most 12 pages long, with one additional page for references, in PDF/DOC format following the Springer LNCS style: http://www.springer.com/computer/lncs?SGWID=0-164-6-793341-0.
Please submit paper by May 25, 2015 via EasyChair for LORI-V: https://easychair.org/conferences/?conf=lori5
Accepted papers will be collected as a volume in the Folli Series on Logic, Language and Information, and a selection of extended papers will later be published in special issues of Synthese and the Journal of Logic and Computation.
To encourage graduate students, those whose papers are single-authored and are accepted will be exempt from the registration fee, and up to 10 students will also have free accommodations during the conference dates.
Prof. Maria Aloni (Department of Philosophy, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
Prof. Joseph Halpern (Computer Science Department, Cornell University, USA)
Prof. Eric Pacuit (Department of Philosophy, University of Maryland, USA)
Prof. Liu Fenrong (Department of Philosophy, Tsinghua University, China)
Prof. Branden Fitelson (Department of Philosophy, Rutgers University, USA)
Prof. Churn-Jung Liau (Institute of Information Science, Academia Sinica, Taiwan)
Organizers: LORI, National Taiwan University (NTU) and National Yang Ming University (YMU), Taipei, Taiwan, LORI
Questions about paper submission please contact: Prof. Wiebe van der Hoek (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Prof. Wesley Holliday (email@example.com)
Questions about conference details please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, 27 April 2015
The European Society for Analytic Philosophy was created in 1990, with the mission to promote collaboration and exchange of ideas among philosophers working within the analytic tradition, in Europe as well as elsewhere. It has thus been responsible for organizing major conferences every 3 years, the highly successful ECAP’s.
The current Steering Committee (of which I am a member), under the leadership of current president Stephan Hartmann, is seeking to expand the ways in which we can serve the (analytic) philosophical community in Europe. We will of course continue to organize ECAP, which will take place in 2017, and for which we already have a fantastic lineup of invited speakers (check it out!). But we are also considering various ways in which we can provide valuable services to the ESAP members, such as negotiating journal access with publishers (this is still in the making), among other initiatives. In particular, the brand-new website of ESAP is now online, and the goal is, among others, to concentrate useful information for (analytic) philosophers working in Europe all in one place.
However, we are only getting started, and at this points suggestions on how ESAP can truly support and galvanize the analytic philosophy community in Europe (as well as strengthening ties with colleagues elsewhere) are much welcome! We haven’t even started with an official membership system yet, precisely because we first want to have a number of services in place so as to make membership to the ESAP an attractive proposition. What are the initiatives and services we could provide that would really make a difference and facilitate the activities of our members? Comments with suggestions below would be much appreciated!