A reader sent me email with the following interesting observations about the relative status of logic in Europe and the US (a propos Ken Taylor’s remarks in the recent Jobs thread over at TAR and my post here):
i’d like to offer the following observation about a difference that i see between logic in europe (including the uk) and logic in north america. well, a couple of ideas come to mind actually. one is that the funding agencies in europe seem to be more tolerant of theoretical computer science than the post-cold war NSF. (you can see this reflected a bit in the job postings on CRA for research positions in computer science in the US; research positions tend to be very applications oriented.) there is growing pressure here for applications as well, but the climate seems more tolerant for the type of work that logic/applied logic falls under. now, at top places –cmu, mit, uc berk, so on–it won’t seem this way. and they will continue cherry picking the best people to retain their standing. but my sense is that the bottom drops out below these places; and you need a critical mass of people working at second tier research universities, regional research centers and at teaching colleges for a discipline to thrive. Europe seems to have these other components in place, and may start having better luck stopping the poaching of its best people by the US if the new visa restrictions continue to cut into the international student enrollments in the us.
but here it isn’t that way at all. i mean, i can run a real modal logic course or a real probabilistic logics course and students (a) are prepared and (b) won’t drop. my gut tells me that i’d have a hard time running these courses at a second-tier research center in the US, which is roughly what my research center here would be, judged by the resources i have at my disposal.
another idea was that i think a good part of AI (and the AI conferences I attend) would count as philosophical logic in north america, once you get the sociological and terminological differences ironed out. or, maybe the better way to put it is that the distinction between philosophical logic and applied logic seems to be rapidly breaking down. the editorial board of JPL and the new synthese KRA issues reflect this general trend, but the integration here seems, i don’t know, more indigenous.
back to jobs. i think that hiring in north american philosophy programs is lagging behind these research trends, but it probably isn’t that unusual for hiring to lag research trends. the more pressing worry is that the logic community in north america does not seem to be as well organized or supported as the logic communities in europe.
I think all of this is dead on.