Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Two Doctoral Fellowships at the Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy (MCMP)

Two PhD Fellowships in Mathematical Philosophy
Deadline: March 12th, 2012
Two doctoral fellowships are being advertised at the Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy (MCMP). The MCMP, which is devoted to applications of logical and mathematical methods in philosophy, was established in 2010 at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich (LMU) based on generous support by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. Directed by Professor Hannes Leitgeb, the Center hosts a vibrant research community of university faculty, postdoctoral fellows, doctoral fellows, and visiting fellows. The Center organizes at least two weekly colloquia in Mathematical Philosophy and a weekly internal work-in-progress seminar, as well as various other activities such as workshops, conferences, reading groups, and the like.
The successful candidate will partake in all of the Center’s academic activities and enjoy its administrative facilities and financial support. More information on the Center can be found here. Over and above the Center, the Faculty of Philosophy, Philosophy of Science and Study of Religion at LMU offers a wealth of expertise in all areas of philosophy.
The successful applicants, who will become PhD students at the LMU, are supposed to use logical or mathematical methods in their philosophical work, and/or to reflect on these methods philosophically. PhD projects can, of course, be carried out in logic or philosophy of mathematics, but they are not restricted to these fields -- for instance, work in epistemology, philosophy of science, philosophy of language, metaphysics, moral philosophy, and so forth are equally encouraged, as long as formal methods play a significant role in the corresponding research.
In general, applicants should be in possession of the skills that would normally be gained by achieving an MA or equivalent in philosophy, logic or a closely related field. The doctoral stipends are for three years, they are intended to cover the period of dissertation research and writing, and they should be taken up by September 2012 (although there is some flexibility on that side). Each stipend will amount to EUR 1500 of monthly salary (normally tax-free, but excluding insurance). Additionally, the Center helps its fellows with the costs that arise from attending conferences (fees, traveling, accommodation).
Dissertations may be written in English or German. The official language at the Center is English, and the successful candidates need not be able to speak German. There is also the possibility, though no obligation, to do some teaching in either English or German.
Applications are due by March 12th, 2012, and should include:
1. A cover letter that addresses, amongst others, one's academic background and research interests.
2. A curriculum vitae.
3. A proposal for a dissertation project (3 pages).
4. A sample of written work (e.g., a seminar paper or a published article).
5. Academic transcripts from university study.
6. Two confidential letters of reference addressing the applicant’s qualifications
for doctoral research. These should be sent from the referees directly.
We especially encourage female students to apply. The Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich in general, and the MCMP in particular, endeavor to raise the percentage of women among its academic personnel.
Applications, letters of reference, as well as any questions ought to be directed to:
Ms. Barbara Pöhlmann
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Muenchen
Fakultät für Philosophie, Wissenschaftstheorie und Religionswissenschaft
Lehrstuhl für Logik und Sprachphilosophie / MCMP
Geschwister-Scholl-Platz 1
D-80539 München
E-mail: office.leitgeb@lrz.uni-muenchen.de
If possible at all, we prefer to receive applications and letters of reference by e-mail
(sent to office.leitgeb@lrz.uni-muenchen.de).

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Summer school: Formal methods in philosophy

I just sent out the announcement for the summer school on formal methods in philosophy that I am organizing. It seems to me that more sustained methodological discussions of applications of formal methods in philosophy are at this point much needed. The summer school is an attempt to foster such debates and motivate students and young researchers to be attentive to the to methodological issues underlying their work. See below for the official announcement, and check the webpage of the summer school for further details. (As you will see from the list of speakers, it will be a bit like an M-Phi summer camp!)


The Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Groningen and the Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy are hosting a summer school on formal methods in philosophy.


DATES: 23rd to 28th of August 2012

PLACE: Faculty of Philosophy, Groningen

ORGANIZATION: Catarina Dutilh Novaes (Groningen)

TARGET AUDIENCE: Master’s and PhD students interested in formal approaches to philosophical questions, but open to more senior researchers as well.

SETUP: A series of lectures by Catarina Dutilh Novaes on general methodological issues pertaining to the use of formal methods in philosophy, and 10 tutorials by prominent researchers on different applications of formal methods to philosophical questions.

SPEAKERS: Barteld Kooi (Groningen), Branden Fitelson (Rutgers), Catarina Dutilh Novaes (Groningen), Florian Steinberger (Munich), Jan-Willem Romeijn (Groningen), Jeanne Peijnenburg (Groningen), Jeff Ketland (Munich), Martin van Hees (Groningen), Ole Hjortland (Munich), Olivier Roy (Munich), Sylvia Wenmackers (Groningen)

REGISTRATION: The registration fee is EUR 50. We have a limited number of places, so early registration is strongly recommended. For further details, consult the webpage of the summer school.

SCHOLARSHIPS: The Groningen Faculty of Philosophy is graciously offering up to 4 scholarships of EUR 500 to help cover for travel and accommodation costs, which will be awarded to the 4 best applications.

CONFERENCE: The summer school will be followed by the international conference ‘Frontiers of Rationality and Decision’, which summer school participants can attend at no additional cost:


Monday, 13 February 2012

Hodges on the normativity of logic in The Reasoner

(This is a shorter version of something I just posted at NewAPPS, as M-Phi readers probably do not need to be introduced to The Reasoner.)

I'll be interviewing Keith Stenning for The Reasoner, and to prepare for it I was re-reading some of the previous interviews. I found the following delightful passage by Wilfrid Hodges (in the November 2011 issue):

Incidentally I have no patience at all with the view of Kant, followed by Frege and some modern writers, that logic studies how we ought to think and psychology studies how we do think. A logician can tell you that if you reason by rule X, then you will sometimes find yourself deducing false conclusions from true premises. It does follow that if you want never to deduce false conclusions from true premises, you ought not to use rule X. So for example you ought not to use rule X in a research paper in pure mathematics. But in real life, where time and memory are often limited and premises are often dubious in one way or another, rule X might be for practical purposes exactly what you need. One of the major achievements of logic of the last fifty years is to start taking seriously the constraints under which we reason, and the different aims that we can have in our reasoning. This expansion of logic gives many openings for collaboration between logicians and cognitivists.

I couldn’t agree more, and have argued at different occasions that the view of logic as having normative import for thought is entirely misguided. It is a relic of Kantian transcendental idealism that most philosophers still hold on to, but usually somewhat uncritically. What Hodges is referring to in “one of the major achievements of logic of the last fifty years is to start taking seriously the constraints under which we reason, and the different aims that we can have in our reasoning” is probably developments in computer science and artificial intelligence, as philosophers themselves (with honorable exceptions such as Gilbert Harman) remain by and large oblivious to the issue of constraints on reasoning. It is about time that we catch up!

(By this I do not mean to imply that logic has no normative import whatsoever: I'm questioning the idea that it has normative import specifically for thought. I do think that there is something deeply normative about logic, but it has to do with multi-agent, public sphere practices of argumentation rather than with mono-agent, private sphere practices of thinking. But that's a topic for a different occasion.)

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Mathematicians boycotting Elsevier

I’m pretty sure everybody has seen this somewhere already, but just to be sure: there is an ongoing campaign to boycott Elsevier, which started with a powerful statement by Fields medalist Tim Gowers, and is now getting more and more vigorous – to the point that it caused the Elsevier share price to fall! While the campaign as such focuses mostly on Elsevier and academic publishing in mathematics, their critique of the commercial academic publishing business model (get everybody to work for free and charge exorbitant prices) applies pretty much across the board. It is definitely something that all academics, of all areas, should be following with interest.

Fitelson on fallacies, cognition, and confirmation

As already noticed at Leiter Reports, Branden Fitelson has a very nice recent podcast in a series of interviews by graduate students at the University of Chicago. There's a couple of papers that Branden mentions as particularly relevant for his fascinating discussion. For those interested, they can be found here and here, respectively.