Herbrand Photograph by Natascha Artin Brunswick

I came across this long-lost photograph of Jacques Herbrand in a paper by Marcel Guillaume, “La logique mathématique en France entre les deux guerres mondiales : Quelques repères,” Revue d’histoire des sciences 1/2009 (Tome 62) , p. 177-219. It turns out that the photo was taken by Natascha Artin Brunswick in 1931, when Herbrand visited Hamburg.  Artin Brunswick was a gifted photographer, whose work was recognized by an exhibition entitled Hamburg: Wie ich es sah at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg in 2001.  (The museum bookstore still had copies of the exhibition catalog a few months ago, although you have to email them as it’s not in the online selection.) Together with her husband Emil Artin, she emigrated to the US in 1937, and worked at NYU’s Courant Institute from 1946 until her retirement in 1989, primarily as Technical Editor of the Communications on Pure and Applied Mathematics. According to her son Tom Artin, the Herbrand picture is one of the photos of mathematicians that she had thumb-tacked to her bulletin board at the Courant Institute literally for decades. Many thanks to Tom Artin for permission to share the picture here.

[Photo:  Natascha Artin-Brunswick, © Estate of Natascha Artin-Brunswick.]

Open Philosophy Textbooks

Since it’s open access week, and since I’ve been thinking about Open Educational Resources a fair bit lately, I thought I’d post briefly about the state of OER in philosophy.  First, what’s an OER?  It’s any kind of material that you can use in teaching and learning that is openly available.  Examples are syllabi, handouts, PowerPoint slides, videos, but especially, textbooks.  ‘Open’ in this context means: available under a license which allows the ‘five Rs of openness‘:

  • Retain – the right to make, own, and control copies of the content
  • Reuse – the right to use the content in a wide range of ways (e.g., in a class, in a study group, on a website, in a video
  • Revise – the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language)
  • Remix – the right to combine the original or revised content with other open content to create something new (e.g., incorporate the content into a mashup)
  • Redistribute – the right to share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others (e.g., give a copy of the content to a friend)

Open textbooks are especially important, since textbooks are very costly.  That’s especially true of textbooks for first-year courses in large lecture courses in economics, psychology, etc., where textbooks often cost $200 or more.  In philosophy we (or better: our students) are better off, since people typically teach from primary sources, many of which are available in inexpensive editions (cf. especially Hackett) and even anthologies of ancient or modern philosophy are affordable by comparison. Logic and critical thinking are notable exceptions; here, too, the popular textbooks set students back $150 or more.

The Open Textbook movement is an important countervailing trend.  There are now high-quality, refereed textbooks for many subjects which are not only free to students but open in the sense of the 5Rs above. (See e.g., OpenStax, BCCampus Open, and the Open Textbook Library). This makes it possible to expand the range of offerings without having to write completely new texts. E.g., if an open text is missing coverage of a subject dear to your heart (or required by department policy, say), you can add material on that to an open textbook.

In philosophy, there isn’t much (yet).  But there isn’t nothing.

Modern Philosophy is an anthology of readings in modern philosophy, from Descartes to Kant. It was originally compiled by Walter Ott (University of Virginia) from texts in the public domain made available by Project Gutenberg. Alex Dunn (UCSB) has converted the textbook to Markdown, which makes it easily convertible to various formats.  It seems that following Ott’s move from Virginia Tech to UVA the original website disappeared, but (thank’s to the open license!) you can still read it online here and here, and download in various formats as well as buy a nice print copy on BC Campus Open. The source code to Dunn’s version is available on GitHub.

forall x: An Introduction to Formal Logic is a textbook by P. D. Magnus (SUNY Albany), written in LaTeX. The book’s available a PDF and LaTeX source from its homepage, but it’s also available on the BC Campus Open site for download and print. Like Modern Logic, BC Campus has faculty reviews for forall x.

An Introduction to Reasoning is a critical thinking textbook by Cathal Woods (Virginia Wesleyan College). It’s written in Google Docs, and so can be downloaded in Word, RTF, etc. formats. Additional exercises and answers are available to instructors by request.

forall x: The Lorain County Remix is a critical thinking and logic textbook by Rob “Helpy-Chalk” Loftis (Lorain County Community College). As the title indicates, it is a ‘remix’: a new book, which includes material from Wood’s critical reasoning text, material from Magnus’s formal logic text, plus the material from forall x has been rearranged, and exercises added. All this was possible because the other two texts were available under an open license. [Update: as Rob mentions in a comment below, he also added two entire chapters on categorical reasoning.]

Elements of Deductive Logic by Antony Eagle (Adelaide) is a complete textbook on intermediate logic, since recently available under an open license and with source code on GitHub!

That’s all I know of, as far as complete, open, textbooks of interest to philosophers is concerned.  There is the Open Logic Project, familiar to readers of this blog, but it’s not really a stand-alone textbook yet. There are also a few more free logic books, and Bryan Roberts (LSE) is working on an almost open textbook on the philosophy of science. (It’s only almost open because the license does not allow Revise and Remix.)  Let me know if you know of anything else.

PS: One way of getting more open philosophy textbooks would be for authors of existing textbooks to reclaim their copyright. This is possible for works for which copyright was transferred to a publisher in 1978 or later, and 35 after the rights were transferred.  If your textbook is out of print, the publisher may relinquish the rights if you ask.  Once you have your rights back, you can license your book under a Creative Commons license, and voilà, open textbook!

Book Symposium on Greg Frost-Arnold’s “Carnap, Tarski, and Quine at Harvard” in Metascience

The book symposium I organized for this year’s Pacific APA on Greg Frost-Arnold’s Carnap, Tarski, and Quine at Harvard: Conversations of Logic, Mathematics, and Science (Chicago: Open Court, 2013) is coming out in the journal Metascience.  The papers are now online:

You might also like Rick’s review of the book in NDPR and Gary’s in HPL, as well as  Paolo Mancosu’s related paper Harvard 1940-41: Tarski, Carnap, and Quine on a Finitistic Language of Mathematics for Science. Thanks to Brad Wray for the invitation to collect the papers there!


Carnap’s Early Metatheory

I know you’ve been waiting for the definitive assessment of what Carnap was up to in his unpublished Untersuchungen zur Allgemeinen Axiomatik from the late 1920s.  Georg Schiemer, Erich Reck, and I wrote a paper about it.  I’ll leave it to you to judge whether this paper is the definitive assessment you’ve been waiting for.  It’s forthcoming in a Synthese special issue on Carnap on Logic, collecting contributions from the wonderful Munich conference of the same title organized by Georg. (If it’s paywalled for you, here’s a preprint.)