Jason Stanley coming to Calgary

Unfortunately, only for a talk: this Friday at 4, “Knowledge and Action,” in SS 1253. He hasn’t told us what specifically he will be speaking about, but I’m sure it’s going to be excellent.

Quantifiers and Claims about the Inferiority of Women

My colleague Elizabeth Brake pointed out to me a wonderful passage in the “1706 Preface” to Mary Astell‘s Reflections upon Marriage, in which she’s criticizing William Nicholls’ claim (in The Duty of Inferiors towards their Superiors, in Five Practical Discourses (London 1701), Discourse IV: The Duty of Wives to their Husbands), that women are naturally inferior to men. Shorter Astell: “You’re supressing your quantifiers. Once you make them explicit, you’re either committing treason or are stating the obvious.” (Note that in 1706 England was ruled by Queen Anne.)

‘Tis true, thro’ Want of Learning, and of that Superior Genius which Men as Men lay claim to, she [the author] was ignorant of the Natural Inferiority of our Sex, which our Masters lay down as a Self-Evident and Fundamental Truth. She saw nothing in the Reason of Things, to make this either a Principle or a Conclusion, but much to the contrary; it being Sedition at least, if not Treason to assert it in this Reign. For if by the Natural Superiority of their Sex, they mean that every Man is by Nature superior to every Woman, which is the obvious meaning, and that which must be stuck to if they would speak Sense, it wou’d be a Sin in any Woman to have Dominion over any Man, and the greatest Queen ought not to command but to obey her Footman, because no Municipal Laws can supersede or change the Law of Nature; so that if the Dominion of the Men be such, the Salique Law, as unjust as English Men have ever thought it, ought to take place over all the Earth, and the most glorious Reigns in the English, Danish, Castilian, and other Annals, were wicked Violations of the Law of Nature!

If they mean that some Men are superior to some Women this is no great Discovery; had they turn’d the Tables they might have seen that some Women are Superior to some Men. Or had they been pleased to remember their Oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy, they might have known that One Women is superior to All the Men in these Nations, or else they have sworn to very little purpose. And it must not be suppos’d, that their Reason and Religion wou’d suffer them to take Oaths, contrary to the Laws of Nature and Reason of things. (iii-iv, and Astell: Political Writings, ed. Patricia Springborg, Cambridge University Press, 1996, 9-10)

Bullshit and Philosophy

Open Court sent a couple of volumes from their Popular Culture and Philosophy series a few weeks back, but I’ve only now had time to read the intro to Bullshit and Philosophy. It’s about bullshit, in particular, about Frankfurt’s On Bullshit, and it’s edited by Gary Hardcastle and George Reisch. Like I said, I’ve only read the intro so far, but it promises to be really interesting. I’m particularly looking forward to Gary’s chapter on the Vienna Circle as an anti-bullshit movement, “The Unity of Bullshit.”

Helvetica: A Semicentennial

Ok, this has nothing to do with logic, but it’s so awesome that I have to post about it. Thanks to Lillian Lovich for sending the link!

Helvetica, the best font of all time, is turning 50 this year. There’s a movie about the font coming out, which I’m really excited about.

Carnegie Mellon Summer School in Logic and Formal Epistemology

In the summer of 2007, the Department of Philosophy at Carnegie Mellon University will hold a three-week summer school in logic and formal epistemology for promising undergraduates in philosophy, mathematics, computer science, linguistics, and other sciences.

The goals are to

  • introduce students to cross-disciplinary fields of research at an early stage in their career; and
  • forge lasting links between the various disciplines.

The summer school will be held from Monday, June 11 to Friday, June 29, 2007. There will be morning and afternoon lectures and daily problem sessions, as well as planned outings and social events.

The summer school is free. That is, we will provide

  • full tuition, and
  • dormitory accommodations on the Carnegie Mellon campus.

So students need only pay round trip travel to Pittsburgh and living expenses while there. There are no grades, and the courses do not provide formal course credit.

Instructions for applying can be found on the summer school web page,


Materials must be received by the Philosophy Department by March 15, 2007.

This year’s topics are:

Causal and Statistical Inference
Monday, June 11 to Friday, June 15
Instructor: David Danks

Logic and Formal Verification
Monday, June 18 to Friday, June 22
Instructor: Jeremy Avigad

Decisions and Games
Monday, June 25 to Friday, June 29
Instructor: Teddy Seidenfeld

The summer school is open to undergraduates, as well as to students who will have just received their undergraduate degrees. Applicants need not be US citizens.

Inquiries may be directed to Jeremy Avigad (avigad@cmu.edu).

Of Names

I just had the following interesting exchange with my colleague Jack MacIntosh, in which every question was asked sincerely, and I have every reason to believe that Jack’s statements were true:

RZ: Zeno and Plato were contemporaries, right?
JM: Yes, for a while.
RZ: Did Plato retire before Aristotle began his studies?
JM: About Aristotle, I don’t know.
RZ: But Aristotle was never Plato’s student, right?
JM: No, he wasn’t. But Plato’s favorite historical figure–whom he worked on and gave classes on–was Plotinus.

Tarski in the SEP

I totally missed it, but the first entry on history of logic in the Stanford Encyclopedia to be published since Paolo Mancosu and I signed on as subject editors has been published over two months ago: Mario Gómez-Torrente on Tarski.

Special Issue of Studia Logica on Applied Logic in the Philosophy of Science

Special Issue of Studia Logica
on Applied Logic in the Philosophy of Science

Guest editors: Igor Douven and Leon Horsten

Studia Logica is extending its scope. In future the journal will not only cover pure logic but also applications of formal-logical methods in philosophy and cognitive science. To mark this change, the journal will have several special issues, of which this is one.

Theme of the Special Issue

When logical empiricism declined, logic seemed to lose its role as the primary tool for investigating the methodology of science. Recently, logical methods in the philosophy of science have been making a comeback.

Recent developments of logical methods in areas outside of logic as it was traditionally conceived have excited new interest in the application of logic to methodological questions. New logical tools and methods are gradually being absorbed by the philosophical community and are being applied to specific problems in the philosophy of science. The proposed Special Issue intends to illustrate this new trend in the philosophy of science on the basis of exemplary instances.

The proposed theme is fairly open-ended, but contributions of the following sort fall squarely within its scope:

  • Investigations of the interaction between logical and probabilistic methods in the methodology of the sciences;
  • Applications of specialized logical tools and modelling techniques to the methodology of particular sciences;
  • New ideas for using logical techniques in the development of rational reconstructions of scientific theories;

The application of novel logical modelling techniques to the process of the evolution of scientific theories in response to new empirical evidence.

Invited authors: Hannes Leitgeb (Bristol) and Gerhard Schurz (Düsseldorf); Sonja Smets (Free University of Brussels) and Alexandru Baltag (Oxford); Simon Huttegger (Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research); Otavio Bueno (University of Miami).

The invited authors are kindly requested to limit their contribution to between 15 and 20 pages (including bibliography).

Submission of Papers

Submitted papers are should be between 15 and 20 pages long (including bibliography), and should be formatted according to the Studia Logica LaTex style (see www.StudiaLogica.org). Some contributions in Microsoft Word may also be accepted: authors should consult the guest editors about this possibility. Only electronic submissions will be accepted. The authors should send an email with subject “Studia Logica Submission” to the guest editors (Igor Douven, igor.douven@hiw.kuleuven.be and / or Leon Horsten, leon.horsten@hiw.kuleuven.be ), with the file of the paper as an attachment, and the following information in the body of the email in plain text: paper title, author names, surface mail, email address of the contact author and a short abstract.

Deadline for submission of manuscripts: June 30th 2007

All papers will be refereed according to the standards of the journal. The refereeing process is expected to be finished by December 2007 and the issue published in Spring 2008.

Rosser Centennial Year

Hello, all. Sorry for not posting lately. Anyway. Happy New Year! I pronounce 2007 the

John Barkley Rosser, Sr. Centennial Year

Rosser was born December 6, 1907 and was one of the pioneers of modern mathematical logic, especially, of recursion theory and the λ-calculus. He also contributed to areas such as number theory and ballistics. As director of the Army Mathematics Research Center during the Vietnam War he was not an uncontroversial figure politically. He died September 5, 1989.

He is the (co-)author of three logic books:

J. Barkley Rosser and Atwell R. Turquette. Many-valued logic. Amsterdam, North-Holland, 1952.

J. Barkley Rosser. Logic for mathematicians. New York, McGraw-Hill, 1953.

J. Barkley Rosser. Simplified independence proofs: Boolean valued models of set theory. New York, Academic Press, 1969.

His two most famous papers are, no doubt:

J. Barkley Rosser. Extensions of some theorems of Gödel and Church. The Journal of Symbolic Logic 1 (1936) 87-91. doi:10.2307/2269028

Alonzo Church and J. Barkley Rosser. Some properties of conversion. Transactions of the American Mathematical Society 39 (1936) 472-482. doi:10.2307/1989762

(Theorem 2 in this paper is “the Church-Rosser Theorem”)

Wisconsin Rosser memorial Resolution [PDF]
Interview with Kleene and Rosser from the Princeton Mathematics Oral History Project