Graduate Studies at Berkeley’s Logic Group

Unfortunately (and, to me, inexeplicably), the Group in Logic and the Methodology of Science got dropped from the specialty rankings for mathematical logic in the 204-06 edition of the Philosophical Gourmet Report. But if you are thinking of going to grad school for logic, take it from me: Berekely still belongs in Group 1, where it was last time. The logic faculty in the Mathematics Department is still one of the best (if not the best) in the world. And the faculty members from the Logic Group in Philosophy haven’t changed much from the last iteration of the Gourmet Report either: Branden Fitelson was hired, and John MacFarlane got tenure. True, there are some areas where Berkeley is not as strong as other places (in proof theory, for instance–but Stanford is just across the Bay!). But you really can’t do much better if you are interested in set theory, model theory, recursion theory, or the history of logic. And Berkeley’s philosophy department isn’t bad either, so your general philosophical education won’t suffer.

When I started there, people were fond of pointing out that in the (then) four top-ranked philosophy departments, each one had a Berkeley graduate on the faculty, and they were all graduates of the Logic Group. That’s not true anymore, but still at least a third of schools that are now ranked in the Gourmet Report for mathematical logic have Berkeley graduates on the faculty: Jeremy Avigad at CMU, John Burgess at Princeton, Ken Manders at Pittsburgh, Matt Foreman at UC Irvine (Kai Wehmeier spent a year at Berkeley), Greg Hjorth at UCLA, Peter Koellner at Harvard studied at Berkeley before moving to MIT, Vann McGee and Stephen Yablo at MIT.

4 thoughts on “Graduate Studies at Berkeley’s Logic Group

  1. The way the write-up is phrased, they seem to suggest that the Logic Group isn’t a philosophy department, and thus they won’t rank it. I suppose I don’t know enough about the UCI department with the name of “philosophy” to know why it was entirely excluded in favor of the LPS department there, rather than ranking both.There may be some merit to the suggestion, given that I seem to be the first student in the group since you and Johannes to be pursuing philosophy rather than math. But this may be in part due to the rankings excluding the group, given the influence they have, and the fact that the number of philosophy students in our group differs from that at UCI by only about one student per year.Are there any other examples you can think of of a department that is only marginally a philosophy department, and thus might not be properly included in the rankings?

  2. Both of UCI’s departments (LPS and Philosophy) are ranked together in the PGR (just as Pitt’s HPS and Philosophy departments are ranked together). UCI’s departments run a joint program, though. There are always borderline cases where a judgment call has to be made; but in the case of the Logic Group I think it was the wrong call. It is quite clearly the case that you can choose to take almost as many courses and quals in philosophy as a philosophy student at Berkeley would (and students in L&M who have taken the philosophy route have always done so). The other program that was excluded in the specialty rankings was Amsterdam’s logic program, and there it might well be that students don’t have the option to (or are required not to) take many “general” philosophy courses.

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