Friday, 20 December 2013

Formal Epistemology Workshop 2014 (including Call for Papers)

11th Annual Formal Epistemology Workshop

June 20-22, 2014
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, CA

The Formal Epistemology Workshop will be held in connection with the 2014 meeting of the Society for Exact Philosophy, which will take place immediately afterwards, at the California Institute of Technology, a short rail ride away in Pasadena.

There will be four contributed talks on Friday, June 20 and four contributed talks on Saturday, June 21. Sunday, June 22 will consist of shared events as part of both FEW and SEP, including a keynote address (by Bas van Fraassen) and a poster session.

Contributors are invited to send full papers (suitable for presenting as a 40 minute talk) to by Friday, January 31, 2014. 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.

Final selection of the contributed talks will be made by March 31, 2014. We hope to have some funding available to help defray expenses for student contributors - details will be available before the program is finalized.

Information about the poster session, including submission protocol, will be posted later.

Local organizer: Kenny Easwaran
Consulting committee: Rachael Briggs, Lara Buchak, Fabrizio Cariani, Trent Dougherty, Franz Huber, Matthew Kotzen, Sarah Moss, Richard Pettigrew, Mike Titelbaum, Jonathan Weisberg

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Wittgenstein on the barest essentials

(Cross-posted at NewAPPS)

( From the graphic novel Logicomix, taken from this blog post by Richard Zach.)

“He doesn’t want to prove this or that, but to find out how things really are.” This is how Russell describes Wittgenstein in a letter to Lady Ottoline Morrell (as reported in M. Potter’s wonderful book Wittgenstein's Notes on Logic, p. 50 – see my critical note on the book). This may well be the most accurate characterization of Wittgenstein’s approach to philosophy in general, in fact a fitting description of the different phases Wittgenstein went through. Indeed, if there is a common denominator to the first, second, intermediate etc. Wittgensteins, it is the fundamental nature of the questions he asked: different answers, but similar questions throughout. So instead of proving ‘this or that’, for example, he asks what a proof is in the first place.

(My own take in my work on the philosophy of logic and mathematics is broadly Wittgensteinian (the later Wittgenstein, that is) in that I focus specifically on the human practices that fall under the heading of logic and mathematics -- in particular the cognitive aspects of these activities.)
I’ve been toying around with the idea of putting together a master’s course on Wittgenstein, and now I’m thinking of something along the lines of ‘Wittgenstein on the nature of logic and mathematics'. (Btw, I highly recommend Juliet Floyd's chapter on Wittgenstein in the Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Mathematics and Logic.) Half of it would be on the Tractatus, and the other half on later writings, in particular the Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics

The goal of the course would not be exclusively historical/exegetical; in fact, I am convinced that Wittgenstein asked all the right questions about logic and mathematics. So a systematic reflection on these topics does well to begin with the questions he asked and to engage with his answers, even if ultimately to reject the answers. The fact that he often focuses on very simple examples have led many to think that he did not really understand higher-level mathematics. But this is simply because for Wittgenstein, to understand the complex cases, we first need to understand the basics of the simple cases -- which turn out to be everything but simple or straightforward.
And now, to my delight, it looks like I’ll be teaching such a course in the next academic year; can’t wait to go down to the barest essentials with Wittgenstein! (I anticipate an overflow of Wittgenstein-related blog posts in due course.)

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

CfA: Summer School on Mathematical Philosophy for Female Students

LMU Munich, July 27 - August 2, 2014

The Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy (MCMP) is organizing the first Summer School on Mathematical Philosophy for Female Students, which will be held from July 27 to August 2, 2014 in Munich, Germany. The summer school is open to excellent female students who want to specialize in mathematical philosophy.

Since women are significantly underrepresented in philosophy generally and in formal philosophy in particular, this summer school is aimed at encouraging women to engage with mathematical methods and apply them to philosophical problems. The summer school will provide an infrastructure for developing expertise in some of the main formal approaches used in mathematical philosophy, including theories of individual and collective decision-making, agent-based modeling, and epistemic logic. Furthermore, it offers study in an informal setting, lively debate, and a chance to strengthen mathematical self-confidence and independence for female students. Finally, being located at the MCMP, the summer school will also provide a stimulating and interdisciplinary environment for meeting like-minded philosophers.

LECTURERS: Rachael Briggs (ANU), Catrin Campbell-Moore (MCMP), Sebastian Lutz (MCMP), Conor Mayo-Wilson (MCMP), Gil Sagi (MCMP), Sonja Smets (Amsterdam), Florian Steinberger  (MCMP)

ORGANIZERS: Stephan Hartmann, Catherine Herfeld, Hannes Leitgeb, Kristina Liefke

APPLICATION: For details about the application procedure, have a look at the above-mentioned webpage. The deadline for application is 15 February 2015.

MCMP EVENT POLICY: Have a look at

MCMP MASTER PROGRAM: Interested students might also consider to apply for the MCMP’s master program in Logic and Philosophy of Science (which addresses male and female students). For details, click

MCMP MEDIA PAGE: You might also want to have a look at our media page with more than 400 recorded lectures which you can watch on iTunes U.: