Women in Philosophy of Logic and Philosophical Logic

Catarina Dutilh Novaes sent the following important message to PHILOS-L last weekend, reposted here with her permission:

Dear all,

Recently (and admittedly very late!), I started thinking more seriously about the lack of gender balance in the areas in which I do most of my research, namely history and philosophy of logic and philosophical logic. What got me thinking was probably the (positive) noise being made at Feminist Philosophers. One of the issues raised by the Feminist Philosophers is the low proportion of women in most philosophy conferences (in particular as invited/keynote speakers); I realized that in the workshop I am organizing, there are only three women as speakers, including myself! So I think this is a matter that deserves further attention.

Richard Zach had a blog entry a while ago on the staggeringly low number of women publishing in the journals of the area (his data concerned the Journal of Philosophical Logic). From this sort of data it is all too easy to conclude that there simply aren’t enough women around working in (philosophy of) logic and philosophical logic so as to redress the imbalance seen in conference lineups. But here again the usual analysis applies: the lack of female speakers at such conferences reinforces the idea that the area is just not ‘for women’, which in turn does not encourage young female students to pursue interests they might have in the area. Absence of female keynote speakers may also be a discouraging factor for other female researchers to submit papers to such conferences. Sally Haslanger has a wonderful piece on how vicious these mechanisms can be, which can be found here: Changing the Ideology and Culture of Philosophy: Not by Reason (Alone)

So the purpose of this message now is to question the widespread impression that there are not (or very few) prominent female logicians and philosophers of logic, people with the standing to be keynote speakers at major conferences. I was thinking it might be useful to compile a list of such people, sort of a handy device that could help those organizing conferences in the area to ensure a better gender balance among the speakers. Please send me names off list, and I will post the results to the whole list once we have a significant number of names. Just to give you an idea of what I have in mind, here are some women that would obviously be on such a list: Juliet Floyd, Penelope Maddy, Gila Sher, Delia Graff Fara. I’m sure there are many more such talented women working in the philosophy of logic and philosophical logic, so I look forward to many reactions!


cdutilhnovaes at yahoo dot com

Please respond to Catarina at the email address above!

UPDATE: Results of the effort are collected “women in philosophy of logic and philosophical logic” on the Logic and Rational Interaction blog.

PM@100: Logic from 1910 to 1927

Call for Papers
PM@100: Logic from 1910 to 1927

21 – 24 May, 2010
Bertrand Russell Research Centre
McMaster University
Hamilton, Ontario

The Bertrand Russell Research Centre in 2010 will host a conference to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the publication of the first volume of Russell and Whitehead’s Principia Mathematica.

The publication in 1910 of the first of the three volumes of Russell and Whitehead’s Principia Mathematica was a landmark in the development of logic, the foundations of mathematics, and the application of logic in philosophy. The rapid development of these fields in the two decades after 1910 owes perhaps more to Principia Mathematica than to any other work. Subsequently, however, its lessons learnt in different ways by different people, it becomes more difficult to determine exactly what the world owes to this gigantic piece of work. Daunting both for its size and its technical difficulty, the book is now known more by reputation than by detailed study. Russell himself maintained, no doubt with some exaggeration, that he knew of only six people besides the authors who had read the entire three volumes. He remained dissatisfied with the foundations of the work and attempted a major revision (this time without Whitehead’s help) in a second edition published in 1925–27, which further complicated its historical legacy.

A century after its first appearance, a great deal has changed. Many of Russell’s working papers on the problems it addressed have been published, and this has led to significant re-interpretations of the work itself. Enough time has now passed to make it possible to evaluate what contributions it made, or failed to make, to philosophy, logic, and the foundations of mathematics.

Presenters Include: Patricia Blanchette, Charles Chihara, Warren Goldfarb, Ivor Grattan-Guinness, Leila Haaparanta, Allen Hazen, David Kaplan, Gregory Landini, Peter Simons, Alasdair Urquhart, and Richard Zach.

Submissions to the conference are sought in all areas relating to Principia Mathematica or to the development of logic and to the philosophy and foundations of mathematics in the years between the two editions.

Contributors are asked to submit two copies of an essay suitable for 30–45 minute presentation with an abstract no later than 1 January 2010 to:

Professor Nicholas Griffin, Director
The Bertrand Russell Research Centre
1280 Main Street West
Hamilton, Ontario

EMAIL: ngriffin@mcmaster.ca
FAX: 905-577-6930

Graduate students are also encouraged to submit. Announcements of acceptances for the program will be made by the end of February 2010.

Conference Co-Organizers:

Nicholas Griffin
The Bertrand Russell Research Centre
McMaster University

Bernard Linsky
Department of Philosophy
University of Alberta
bernard.linsky@ualberta. ca

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