Sunday, 20 November 2011

Ten-part, Year-long Turing Exhibit in Paderborn

The Heinz Nixdorf MuseumsForum in Paderborn is honoring the centenary of the birth of Alan Turing with a 10-part, year-long exhibition "Genial & Geheim — Alan Turing in 10 Etappen", 11 January – 16 December 2012. From the website:
The exhibition in the HNF focuses not only on Turing's achievements in the decryption of Enigma and his groundbreaking work as a computer pioneer, but also on his accomplishments in artificial intelligence and pattern formation in nature, as well as the tragedy of his death and his posthumous fame.
Here is the schedule:
  1. 11.1.-12.2.2012:  Enigma and the Battle for the Atlantic
  2. 15.2.-11.3.2012:  The Codebreaker of Bletchley Park
  3. 14.3.-8.4.2012:  The Turing-Test
  4.  11.4.-6.5.2012  From Turbochamp to Deep Blue
  5.  9.5.-8.7.2012:  The History of Intelligent Machines (feat. Robo Thespian)
  6.  28.7.-26.8.2012:  The Turing Machine
  7.  29.8.-23.9.2012:  Pattern Formation in Nature
  8.  26.9.-21.10.2012:  The ACE Computer
  9.  24.10.-18.11.2012:  Love Letters from the Automaton (Liebesbriefe vom Automaten) (Installation by David Link)
  10.  21.11.-16.12.2012:  Tragedy and Posthumous Fame (Turing Award)

Friday, 18 November 2011

Editorial changes for Synthese

(Cross-posted at New APPS)

For those who have not seen it yet: two days ago, Synthese announced a series of changes to its editorial structure. The most detailed of them concerns new procedures for special issues, which had been anticipated in the otherwise elliptic statements by the EiCs in response to the intelligent design special issue controversy, earlier this year. Moreover, John Symons is stepping down, after 10 years of dedicated work as EiC of Synthese; Johan van Benthem will now serve as chair of the advisory board, and two new EiC will join Vincent F. Hendricks in this capacity: Otávio Bueno and Wiebe van der Hoek.

This seems to me to be a good development. To be sure, many of the important questions concerning the controversy remain frustratingly unanswered, and the potential legal damage of the disclaimer still has not been neutralized. But it would seem that at least some of the criticism put forward (in particular concerning the problematic status of special issues and the potential for a conflict of authority between EiC and guest editors) has been taken into account. Some critics claim that the journal has lost its credibility for good, but for those who think that the whole profession is better off with a journal such as Synthese remaining a respected venue, this is good news.

Personally, I applaud in particular the choice of Otávio Bueno as one of the EiC (and not only because he is a friend and a fellow Brazilian!): Otávio has astonishing philosophical breath, is a highly productive and energetic professional, and has an approach to institutional engagement that is likely to be put to good use as EiC. I know much less about Wiebe van der Hoek, but he too is highly productive and energetic, so I’d say that all in all this is a promising new start for Synthese. They know that the whole philosophical community will be watching, and that the smallest slip is not likely to be overlooked, but the new editorial structure seems to be heading in the right direction, in particular in terms of increased transparency.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Formal methods and history of philosophy

Things have been rather quiet here at M-Phi in the last couple of weeks. I can't speak for the others, but as far as I am concerned, the main reasons have been a full travel schedule and a lack of new ideas :) My formal languages project (and book) is virtually finalized, but I haven't really got going yet with the new project on deduction, and it's usually in connection with my research that I have ideas for M-Phi blog posts.

But anyway, one thing I have been doing is working on my chapter for the Handbook of Formal Philosophy, edited by Sven Ove Hansson and Vincent F. Hendricks. The chapter is on uses of formal methods in the study of the history of philosophy (having done a fair amount of 'formal history of philosophy' myself). It presents methodological considerations and three case studies: Aristotle's syllogistic, Anselm's ontological argument, and medieval theories of supposition. More generally, the application of formal methods in the study of the history of philosophy offers an interesting vantage point to reflect on the methodology of formal methods across the board.

I've put a draft of the chapter online, should anyone be interested in taking a look; as always, comments are welcome.