Wednesday, 28 January 2015
University of Turin – via Sant’Ottavio 20, Turin (Italy)
6th February 2015
ex Sala Lauree Giurisprudenza
Palazzo Nuovo (ground floor)
INFORMATION, SEARCH, and CAUSES
Rational and cognitive approaches
(here to download)
9.15 – 10.15
David LAGNADO (UCL)
Causal networks in evidential reasoning
10.15 – 11.00
Jonathan NELSON (MPI Berlin)
Late-breaking results on stepwise approaches to sequential search
11.30 – 12.15
Neil BRAMLEY (UCL)
Acting informatively: How people learn
causal structure through sequences of interventions
14.00 – 15.00
Paul PEDERSEN (MPI Berlin)
Dilation, disintegrations, dominance principles, and delayed decisions
15.00 – 15.45
Laura MARTIGNON (Ludwigsburg)
Probabilistic information measures in the classroom
15.45 – 16.30
Flavia FILIMON (Humboldt University Berlin)
Neural substrates of probabilistic perceptual decisions
based on experienced probabilities vs. descriptive statistics
17.00 – 17.45
Björn MEDER (MPI Berlin)
Information search and presentation formats
17.45 – 18.30
Vincenzo CRUPI (Turin)
Shannon and beyond: Generalized entropies and rational information search
The Center for Logic, Language, and Cognition (LLC) of the University of Turin was established in 2014 as a joint initiative of the Departments of Philosophy and Education, Psychology, and Computer Science. The workshop arises from the activities of two ongoing research projects addressing related issues: priority program New Frameworks of Rationality, SPP 1516 (Deutsche Forshungsgemeinshaft, grant CR 409/1-2), and FIRB project Structures and Dynamics of Knowledge and Cognition (Italian Ministry of Scientific Research, Turin unit, D11J12000470001).
Friday, 23 January 2015
First Announcement & Call for Abstracts
Logic Colloquium 2015
European Summer Meeting of the Association for Symbolic Logic
Sergei Artemov (New York)
Steve Awodey (Pittsburgh)
Johan van Benthem (Amsterdam and Stanford)
Artem Chernikov (Paris)
Ilias Farah (York)
Danielle Macbeth (Haverford)
Andrei Morozov (Novosibirsk)
Kobi Peterzil (Haifa)
Ralf Schindler (Münster)
Saharon Shelah (TBC) (Jerusalem and Rutgers)
Sebastiaan Terwijn (Nijmegen)
Travel Awards and Contributed Talks
(Cross-posted at NewAPPS)
I've been asked to write a review of Williamson's brand new book Tetralogue for the Times Higher Education. Here is what I've come up with so far. Comments are very welcome, as I still have some time before submitting the final version. (For more background on the book, here is a short video where Williamson explains the project.)
Friday, 16 January 2015
The problem of fictional discourse -- do statements involving fictional objects have truth-values or are they truth-valueless; if the former, how are these truth values determined? -- is one that goes back at least to Frege (his views on the compositionality of language and what the referent of a sentence is entail that sentences which have non-referring parts have no truth-value) and for which no adequate solution has yet been found, given, e.g., the publication of books such as Tim Crane's The Object of Thought in 2013. I'm not going to survey all the issues arising from these problems, but instead present a problem for some accounts of the truth values of fictional statements which is, so far as I am aware, not often considered.
In Part 1 last week, one of my example languages was Adûnaic, one of the languages developed by J.R.R. Tolkien. I picked Adûnaic because of the context in which it appears in its most full form, Lowdham's report to the members of the Notion Club (The Notion Club Papers are themselves full of extremely interesting ideas about the nature of language and how linguistic meaning can be acquired, and will be the focus of a future Lesson), but any of his languages -- Quenya, Sindarian -- or indeed any constructed language of sufficient sophistication -- e.g., Klingon -- will serve my purposes.
One thing that is remarkable about constructed fictional languages such as Klingon, Quenya, etc., is the academic scholarship that they have generated. There is the The Elvish Linguistic Fellowship (a special interest group of the Mythopoeic Society, "devoted to the scholarly study of the invented languages of J.R.R. Tolkien"), which publishes two print journals, Vinyar Tengwar and Parma Eldalamberon, and an online journal, Tengwestië; Helge Kåre Fauskanger's Ardalambion, an extensive collection of links regarding Tolkienian languages; the Klingon Language Institute; and even the journal Tolkien Studies, which will not specifically devoted to his constructed languages publishes articles on them, such as Christopher Gilson's "Essence of Elvish: The Basic Vocabulary of Quenya". One conclusion that can be drawn from this extensive academic activity is that these fictional languages are taken as worthy objects of study, When it comes to languages, one of the basic requirements that it has to meet in order for it to be something worth studying is that it be meaningful. (While people can, and do, create "nonsense" languages, which are not meaningful, these do not have a history of generating the sort of scholarship that fictional languages like Klingon and Sindarin have.)
There are two types of contexts in which these languages can be found: In the original context of construction (e.g., in Tolkien's writings for the Elvish languages; in Star Trek TV episodes and movies for Klingon), and in external contexts (e.g., a wholly new composition of poetry in Quenya, or translation of the Bible into Klingon). Both of these contexts cause problems for straightforward explanations of how these languages are meaningful.
Adûnaic is set apart from other fictional languages by the paucity of examples that we have in it. As Fauskanger notes, "There are no coherent Adûnaic texts. Except single words scattered around in Lowdham's Report, most of the corpus consists of a number of fragmentary sentences given in SD:247, with Lowdham's interlinear translation" . Fauskanger supplements the translation that is found in Sauron Defeated with words whose meaning is known from other contexts, and gives it as follows:
Kadô Zigûrun zabathân unakkha... "And so / [the] Wizard / humbled / he came..." ...Êruhînim dubdam Ugru-dalad... "...[the] Eruhíni [Children of Eru] / fell / under [the] Shadow..." ...Ar-Pharazônun azaggara Avalôiyada... "...Ar-Pharazôn / was warring / against [the] Valar..." ...Bârim an-Adûn yurahtam dâira sâibêth-mâ Êruvô "...[the] Lords of [the] West / broke / the Earth / with [the] assent / of Eru..." ...azrîya du-phursâ akhâsada "...seas /so as to gush/ into [the] chasm..." ...Anadûnê zîrân hikallaba... "...Númenor / [the] beloved / she fell down..." ...bawîba dulgî... "...[the] winds [were] black..." (lit. simply "winds / black") ...balîk hazad an-Nimruzîr azûlada... "...ships / seven / of Elendil / eastward..." Agannâlô burôda nênud... "Death-shadow / heavy /on us..." ...zâira nênud... "...longing [is] / on us..." ...adûn izindi batân tâidô ayadda: îdô kâtha batîna lôkhî... "...west / [a] straight / road / once / went / now / all / roads / [are] crooked..." Êphalak îdôn Yôzâyan "Far away / now [is] / [the] Land of Gift..." Êphal êphalak îdôn hi-Akallabêth "Far / far away / now [is] / She-that-hath-fallen"
Though this is fragmentary, it is clear that what is being expressed is in the context of the legends of Middle Earth, that is, Adûnaic is being used to write what is from our point of view fiction. This fragmentary poem is not intended to be read literally as expressing statements about the actual world. This feature -- the use of the language to say something within the context of a fiction -- is to some extent shared by "external" uses of fictional languages, which by and large are also used for non-literal or non-factive writing or speech: Almost no one writes lesson plans in Quenya, composes a shopping list in Klingon, or sends submits meeting minutes in Sindarin.
The question then, is: If these languages are meaningful, how are they meaningful? What do we mean when we say that these fictional languages are meaningful, or at least intended to have meaning? If we mean that the sentences that are expressed by these languages have truth-conditions (e.g., a truth-conditional account of meaning has been adopted), then we are stymied by the fact that there is no good account of the truth-conditions of fictional language. One might say that there are truth conditions, we simply do not know them, and hence (via an epistemic rather than ontological truth-conditional account of meaning) we do not know the meaning of these sentences, even though they are meaningful. This sceptical position, however, does not seem to take account of our behaviour regarding sentences in these languages: We evaluate translations from, e.g., Quenya into English as correct or incorrect, we write literary criticism about the propositions expressed, and in general, we sure act as if we know what these sentences mean, at least in part, even though by assumption we don't know the relevant truth conditions.
Of course, it always possible to stick to one's philosophical guns, and simply reply that we are mistaken when we think we know what the sentences mean: But that seems to be a pretty tough horn to impale oneself on, because it doesn't provide any account for our behaviour with respect to these sentences. There is clearly some factor that guides our behaviour: There must be something in which referees evaluating prospective articles for Tengwestië ground their reports. If this is not the meaning of the sentences, then whatever it is, it certainly seems to be something which is functionally equivalent to meaning.
Lesson: We treat statements in constructed languages as meaningful. But if these languages are only ever used in fictional contexts, then any truth-conditional account of meaning which denies truth values to fictional discourse will have difficulty accounting for the fact that we do treat these languages in that way (that is, as meaningful).
© 2015, Sara L. Uckelman
The Fifth International Conference on Logic, Rationality and Interaction (LORI-V)
October 28-31, 2015
The International Conference on Logic, Rationality and Interaction (LORI) conference series aims at bringing together researchers working on a wide variety of logic-related fields that concern the understanding of rationality and interaction (http://golori.org). The series aims at fostering a view of Logic as an interdisciplinary endeavor, and supports the creation of an East-Asian community of interdisciplinary researchers.
We invite submission of contributed papers on any of the broad themes of LORI series; specific topics of interest include, but are not limited to, formal approaches to
* agency, * argumentation and agreement, * belief representation, * cooperation, * belief revision and belief merging, * strategic reasoning, * games, * decision making and planning, * knowledge and action, * epistemology, * dynamics of informational attitudes, * knowledge representation, * interaction, * norms and normative systems, * natural language, * rationality, * philosophy and philosophical logic, * preference and utility, * social choice, * probability and uncertainty, * social interaction, * intentions, plans, and goals
Submitted papers should be at most 12 pages long, with one additional page for references, in PDF/DOC format following the Springer LNCS style: http://www.springer.com/computer/lncs?SGWID=0-164-6-793341-0.
Please submit papers by May 18, 2015 via EasyChair for LORI-V: https://easychair.org/conferences/?conf=lori5
Accepted papers will be collected as a volume in the Folli Series on Logic, Language and Information, and may later be published in a special issue of a prestigious journal.
To encourage graduate students, those whose papers are single-authored and accepted will be exempt from the registration fee, and up to 10 students will also have free accommodations during the conference dates.
For detailed conference information and registration, please visit the website: http://golori.org and click "LORI-V".
Prof. Maria Aloni (Department of Philosophy, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
Prof. Joseph Halpern (Computer Science Department, Cornell University, USA)
Prof. Eric Pacuit (Department of Philosophy, University of Maryland, USA)
Prof. Liu Fenrong (Department of Philosophy, Tsinghua University, China)
Prof. Branden Fitelson (Department of Philosophy, Rutgers University, USA)
Prof. Churn-Jung Liau (Institute of Information Science, Academia Sinica, Taiwan)
Organizers: LORI, National Taiwan University (NTU) and National Yang Ming University (YMU), Taipei, Taiwan, LORI
For questions about paper submission, please contact: Prof. Wiebe van der Hoek (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Prof. Wesley Holliday (email@example.com)
For questions about conference details, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday, 9 January 2015
(Cross-posted at NewAPPS)
Here's a short piece by the New Scientist on the status of Mochizuki's purported proof of the ABC conjecture. More than 2 years after the 500-page proof has been made public, the mathematical community still hasn't been able to decide whether it's correct or not. (Recall my post on this from May 2013; little change seems to have taken place since then.)
Going back to my dialogical conception of mathematical proofs as involving a proponent who formulates the proof and opponents who must check it, this stalemate can be viewed from at least two perspectives: either Mochizuki is not trying hard enough as a proponent, or the mathematical community is not trying hard enough as opponent.
[Mochizuki] has also criticised the rest of the community for not studying his work in detail, and says most other mathematicians are "simply not qualified" to issue a definitive statement on the proof unless they start from the very basics of his theory.(Of course, it may well be that both are the case!). And so for now, the proof remains in limbo, as well put by the New Scientist piece. Mathematics, oh so human!
Some mathematicians say Mochizuki must do more to explain his work, like simplifying his notes or lecturing abroad.
Nearly a decade and a half ago, before logic bewitched me and I fell under her spell, I started off graduate school intending to write a dissertation on something related to philosophy of fiction or fictional discourse (given that that's how specific my dissertation plans were for my first 1-2 years of grad school, I probably should've realized sooner that this was not the topic for me). This year I'm lucky enough to be teaching a 3rd-year undergrad course "Language & Mind" which has reminded me why I was interested in what philosophy can say about fiction, and vice versa, in the first place. For my inaugural contribution to M-Phi, this post will be the first in an (unbounded) series of reflections on what meaning can and cannot be, given the constraints of how language is actually used, both in real and fictional discourse.
It is one thing for a theory of meaning to give an account of simple declarative sentences which are grammatically correct and whose terms refer to existing, uncontroversial objects: "Snow is white" should not be a difficult sentence to analyse if one is to give a theory of meaning of English. It is yet another thing altogether to be able to handle the edge cases, the non-simple, the non-declarative, the non-grammatically correct sentences, the sentences which have non-referring terms, and unfortunately many theories of meaning stumble at these hurdles, providing answers that are hard to swallow. (Note: I am not one who generally thinks that when there is a clash between what a philosophical theory says and what my intuitions say, it is the intuitions that should win. I've been a philosopher long enough to know that my intuitions in some respect are utterly ruined. However, if my philosophical theory entails a conclusion that is at odds with how people think and act about the relevant subject matter, then I do feel entitled to ask my theory to explain why it is there is this discrepancy. In this, I think St. Anselm of Canterbury's approach to the division between logic and grammar was precisely right. To oversimplify it significantly: Grammar is about how people use language, logic is about how people should use language, but more than that, logic should also be able to explain why it is that grammar and logic diverge: Logic should be able to explain why the usus loquendi does not always match the usus proprie.) It is the edge cases that provide the true test for any philosophical theory, and thus it is edge cases that I'll be discussing in this series.
I started off the "Language & Mind" class with two questions, which have become the guiding questions of the class, and three quotes. The questions are:
- What is meaning?
- What are the preconditions for language to have meaning?
And the quotes:
Anadûnê zîrâ hikallaba //
Êphal ê phalak îdôn hi-Akallabêth.
A threigylgweith yd oed yn Arberth, prif lys idaw adyuot yn y uryt ac yn y uedwl uynet y hela.
I expect the average reader of this blog to recognize the language of at least one of these three, but I would be very surprised if anyone knew all three.
Quote 1 is Adûnaic, and translated into English reads:
Numenor the beloved, she fell down //
Far, far away now is She-that-hath-fallen.
Adûnaic is one of the languages created by J.R.R. Tolkien, the most full account of it appearing in "Lowdham's Report on the Adunaic Language", in Sauron Defeated, ed. Christopher Tolkien, p. 413-440. (An overview of the language can be found here). Tolkien's invented languages are well-known for the attention to detail and realistic grammatical and phonological structures that they have, unlike many other fictional languages which are made up in a piecemeal fashion without any attempt to make them mirror non-fictional languages in structure or complexity.
Quote 2 is Welsh, and translated into English reads:
Once upon a time he [Pwyll] was at Arberth, a chief court of his, and he was seized by the thought and the desire to go hunting.
This is the opening line of the story of Pwyll, Prince of Dyfedd, in the Mabinogion, a cycle of prose literature compiled in the 12th-13th C from oral tales.
I chose these three quotes because each of them places different constraints on what meaningfulness can be, where it can come from, and how we must account for it.
The Adûnaic and Welsh quotes are clearly meaningful, as it is possible to translate them into meaningful sentences in English which can be understood even if the original quotes could not be. The status of the quote in Linear A is less clear: It could be argued (and indeed, students in my class did so!) both that Linear A, given that there is no one alive who can understand or decipher it, is therefore meaningless, and that if it were to be deciphered, then it would regain its previous meaningfulness; or it could be argued (and again, I had students willing to take up this side) that it is meaningful, even in the absence of anyone who can understand that meaning, and thus meaning is something which is intrinsic to a language itself, and not dependent on the people who use the language.
However, while Adûnaic and Welsh are certainly on the one hand opposed from Linear A, on other hand they are opposed from each other. Adûnaic, as a constructed rather than natural language, has a definitive moment of creation or inception, and even if it evolved as it was developed, its development is still governed by the arbitration of a single person. Now that that person is dead, that standard of arbitration is gone: There are questions about Adûnaic that are left essentially unanswerable, questions of both vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation. Welsh, on the other hand, did not have its birth at the hands of a single person, and as a result, there is a standard that can be appealed to for arbitration, whether this be the sum of its uses in the medieval period (if it is Old or Middle Welsh that is of interest), its use amongst Welsh speakers today, the proclamations of some canonical language academy (Welsh doesn't have one; but French and other languages do). No one single person has the authority to say what is meaningful and correct and what is not, and yet these questions can still be answered, unlike the case of Adûnaic.
The lesson in this post will be short and simple, since the post itself has gotten rather long, and it is this: The varieties of language which a theory of meaning must account for is perhaps broader and more diverse than people who are used to thinking of what it means for an English sentence to be meaningful are aware. In a future post (perhaps the next one), we'll look closer at the case of Adûnaic, and the problems that a truth-conditional theory of semantics would face in accounting for the (apparent) meaningfulness of that language.
© 2015, Sara L. Uckelman.
Thursday, 8 January 2015
He rescued the moribund journal Annals of Science, founded the journal History and Philosophy of Logic, and was on the board of Historia Mathematica from its inception. A member of the council of the Society for Psychical Research, he wrote Psychical Research: A Guide to Its History (1982). In 1971 the British Society for the History of Mathematics was founded: Ivor served as its president (1986-88) and instituted a formal constitution.Indeed, many of us owe him eternal gratitude for founding the journal History and Philosophy of Logic, which continues to be the main journal for studies combining historical and philosophical perspectives on logic. Ivor's work and scholarship spans over an impressive range of topics and areas, and is bound to continue to influence many generations of scholars to come. It is a great loss.
Tuesday, 6 January 2015
Tom Kelly (Princeton), Jeff Horty (University of Maryland, College Park)
The Formal Epistemology Workshop will be held in connection with the 2015 meeting of the St. Louis Annual Conference on Reasons and Rationality (SLACRR), which will take place immediately before, from May 17-19, 2015.
There will be conference sessions all day on May 20 & 21, and in the morning on May 22.
Contributors are invited to send full papers as PDF files (suitable for presenting as a 40 minute talk) to email@example.com by Friday, January 16, 2015. Papers should be accompanied by abstracts of up to 300 words. Identifying information about the author(s) (including obvious self-citations) should be removed from the body of the paper, but the name (and any other relevant information) should be included in the text of the e-mail.
Submissions should be prepared for anonymous review. Initial evaluation will be done anonymously. The final program will be selected with an eye towards maintaining diversity, so graduate students, people outside the tenure track, women, and members of underrepresented minorities are particularly encouraged to submit papers. We also welcome submissions from researchers in related areas, such as economics, computer science, and psychology. Past programs can be viewed here: http://fitelson.org/few/
Submitting the same paper to both FEW and SLACRR is permitted (though the organizers will coordinate the paper selection in order to ensure that the same paper doesn’t get presented at both conferences).
Final selection of the contributed talks will be made by March 31, 2015.
There will be childcare available for conference participants who bring their children. It will be provided on site by a local certified childcare provider.
Organizers: Kenny Easwaran (Texas A&M), Julia Staffel (Washington University in St. Louis), Mike Titelbaum (UW Madison)
Conference webpage: https://sites.google.com/site/juliastaffelphilosophy/few