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Workshop on The Notion of Proof

Submitted by Richard Zach on Mon, 03/31/2014 - 8:58am

Extended Deadline! CFP: Symposium on the Foundations of Mathematics

Submitted by Richard Zach on Sat, 03/29/2014 - 12:24pm

CfP from

Set theory is taken to serve as a foundation for mathematics. But it is well-known that there are set-theoretic statements that cannot be settled by the standard axioms of set theory. The Zermelo-Fraenkel axioms, with the Axiom of Choice (ZFC), are incomplete. The primary goal of this symposium is to explore the different approaches that one can take to the phenomenon of incompleteness. 

One option is to maintain the traditional “universe” view and hold that there is a single, objective, determinate domain of sets. Accordingly, there is a single correct conception of set, and mathematical statements have a determinate meaning and truth-value according to this conception. We should therefore seek new axioms of set theory to extend the ZFC axioms and minimize incompleteness. It is then crucial to determine what justifies some new axioms over others.

Alternatively, one can argue that there are multiple conceptions of set, depending on how one settles particular undecided statements. These different conceptions give rise to parallel set-theoretic universes, collectively known as the “multiverse”. What mathematical statements are true can then shift from one universe to the next. From within the multiverse view, however, one could argue that some universes are more preferable than others.

These different approaches to incompleteness have wider consequences for the concepts of meaning and truth in mathematics and beyond. The conference will address these foundational issues at the intersection of philosophy and mathematics. The primary goal of the conference is to showcase contemporary philosophical research on different approaches to the incompleteness phenomenon.

To accomplish this, the conference has the following general aims and objectives: 

  1. To bring to a wider philosophical audience the different approaches that one can take to the set-theoretic foundations of mathematics.

  2. To elucidate the pressing issues of meaning and truth that turn on these different approaches.

  3. To address philosophical questions concerning the need for a foundation of mathematics, and whether or not set theory can provide the necessary foundation 

Date and Venue: 7-8 July 2014 – Kurt Gödel Research Center, Vienna

Confirmed Speakers:

Sy-David Friedman (Kurt Gödel Research Center for Mathematical Logic),

Hannes Leitgeb (Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy)

Call for Papers: We welcome submissions from scholars (in particular, young scholars, i.e. early career researchers or post-graduate students) on any area of the foundations of mathematics (broadly construed). Particularly desired are submissions that address the role of set theory in the foundations of mathematics, or the foundations of set theory (universe/multiverse dichotomy, new axioms, etc.) and related ontological and epistemological issues. Applicants should prepare an extended abstract (maximum 1’500 words) for blind review, and send it to sotfom [at] gmail [dot] com. The successful applicants will be invited to give a talk at the conference and will be refunded the cost of accommodation in Vienna for two days (7-8 July).

Submission Deadline: 15 April 2014

Notification of Acceptance: 30 April 2014

Scientific Committee: Philip Welch (University of Bristol), Sy-David Friedman (Kurt Gödel Research Center), Ian Rumfitt (University of Birmigham), John Wigglesworth (London School of Economics), Claudio Ternullo (Kurt Gödel Research Center), Neil Barton (Birkbeck College), Chris Scambler (Birkbeck College), Jonathan Payne (Institute of Philosophy), Andrea Sereni (Università Vita-Salute S. Raffaele), Giorgio Venturi (Université de Paris VII, “Denis Diderot” – Scuola Normale Superiore)

Organisers: Sy-David Friedman (Kurt Gödel Research Center), John Wigglesworth (London School of Economics), Claudio Ternullo (Kurt Gödel Research Center), Neil Barton (Birkbeck College), Carolin Antos (Kurt Gödel Research Center)

Conference Website: sotfom [dot] wordpress [dot] com

Further Inquiries: please contact

Claudio Ternullo (ternulc7 [at] univie [dot] ac [dot] at)

Neil Barton (bartonna [at] gmail [dot] com)

John Wigglesworth (jmwigglesworth [at] gmail [dot] com)

Vienna Summer of Logic: Call for Volunteers

Submitted by Richard Zach on Wed, 03/26/2014 - 9:08am

What is the Vienna Summer of Logic?

With over 2000 expected participants, the Vienna Summer of Logic 2014 (VSL) will be the largest event in the history of logic. It will consist of twelve large conferences and numerous workshops, attracting researchers from all over the world. The VSL will take place 9th-24 July 2014, at the Vienna University of Technology in Vienna, Austria.

The VSL conferences and workshops will deal with the main theme, logic, from three important aspects: logic in computer science, mathematical logic and logic in artificial intelligence. The program of the conference consists of contributed and invited research talks and includes a number of social events such as a student reception. For more information, visit

Vienna Summer of Logic Student Volunteers?

The VSL is organized by the Kurt Goedel Society, and preparations for this event have started some time ago. The most critical phase in the organization of any large scientific meeting is, of course, the time of the meeting itself! To ensure that all the scientific and social meetings taking place in the course of the VSL can be conducted successfully, the organizers of the VSL need your help as a VSL volunteer.

What are a volunteer's duties?

There are many tasks at the VSL that will be performed by volunteers, such as helping with the registration of the participants at the conference, assisting with the use of the technical infrastructure at the conference site, etc. Each volunteer will be supervised by one of the senior organizers who will be the volunteer's contact person at the conference.

What are a volunteer's perks?

The most important benefit of volunteering is that volunteers may *attend all the VSL conferences for free*: this means that you can attend all the research talks given at the conferences, and mingle with the researchers during the coffee breaks. More precisely, your time at the VSL will be divided in the following way: 50% free time to attend lectures of your choosing, 30% fixed volunteer's duties, and 20% ,,standby duty''. Furthermore, all volunteers may participate in the conference's *student reception* (which is a party for all the students participating at VSL), and will receive a VSL volunteer's t-shirt to be able to proudly display their participation in this event in the years to come.

How do I become a volunteer?

Interested in becoming a Vienna Summer of Logic volunteer? Please visit

for the application form. The deadline for applications is May 25, 2014. Applicants that have been chosen as volunteers will be contacted before June 1, 2014.

Visiting Research Chair in Logic or Philosophy of Science at the University of Calgary

Submitted by rzach on Wed, 03/19/2014 - 6:27pm

US$25,000 for 4 months (September 2015 or January 2016)

Contact: Brad Hector, Fulbright Canada Program Officer (Scholars)

The University of Calgary is pleased to offer the opportunity for a Fulbright Visiting Research Chair in Logic or the Philosophy of Science. The visiting researcher will be a part of the Department of Philosophy and collaborate with a dynamic research faculty and graduate students. The Department of Philosophy is internationally recognized in logic and the philosophy of science and home to 22 professors, including a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in the philosophy of biology. The scholar will offer a combined seminar for senior undergraduate students and graduate students in his or her area of expertise, and will participate in departmental and interdisciplinary research groups while pursuing his or her own research projects. 

Specialization: History and philosophy of science, mathematical and philosophical logic.

Leslie Lamport wins Turing Award

Submitted by rzach on Tue, 03/18/2014 - 9:16am

The Association for Computing Machinery has awarded the 2013 Turing Award (the Computer Science equivalent of the Nobel Prize Fields Medal Schock Prize) to Leslie Lamport at Microsoft Research for his work on formal specification and verification techniques, specifically the Temporal Logic of Actions and his work on fault tolerance in distributed systems. Not as close to logic as some other Turing Laureates (is that what they're called?) but still a nice nod to the continued importance of formal methods derived in part from logic in CS. (Oh yeah, he also invented LaTeX.)

Constructive Ordinals and the Consistency of PA

Submitted by Richard Zach on Mon, 03/17/2014 - 4:45pm

Today's the last of three lectures on Gentzen's second proof of the consistency of PA in my proof theory course.

a) Still looking for good resources on ordinal notations, esp., $<\epsilon_0$, especially around the question how one can "see" that they are well-ordered without mentioning that they are order-isomorphic to $\epsilon_0$  Takeuti has a discussion in his textbook, anything else?

b) Some fun links:

Andrej Bauer's Hydra game applet:

David Madore's ordinal visualizer:

c) Looking for a good intro to Goodstein's theorem and incompleteness in PA: Will Sladek's paper linked from Andrés Caicedo's blog:

E. W. Beth Dissertation Prize: 2014 Call for Nominations

Submitted by Richard Zach on Mon, 03/10/2014 - 8:45am

Since 2002, FoLLI (the Association for Logic, Language, and Information, has awarded the E.W. Beth Dissertation Prize to outstanding dissertations in the fields of Logic, Language, and Information. We invite submissions for the best dissertation which resulted in a Ph.D. degree awarded in 2013. The dissertations will be judged on technical depth and strength, originality, and impact made in at least two of three fields of Logic, Language, and Computation. Interdisciplinarity is an important feature of the theses competing for the E.W. Beth Dissertation Prize.

Who qualifies?

Nominations of candidates are admitted who were awarded a Ph.D. degree in the areas of Logic, Language, or Information between January 1st, 2013 and December 31st, 2013. Theses must be written in English; however, the Committee accepts submissions of English translations of theses originally written in other languages, and for which a PhD was awarded in the preceding two years (i.e. between January 1st, 2011 and December 31st, 2012). There is no restriction on the nationality of the candidate or on the university where the Ph.D. was granted. 


The prize consists of:

  • a certificate
  • a donation of 2500 euros provided by the E.W. Beth Foundation
  • an invitation to submit the thesis (or a revised version of it) to the FoLLI Publications on Logic, Language and Information (Springer). For further information on this series see the FoLLI site. 

How to submit

Only electronic submissions are accepted. The following documents are required:

  1. The thesis in pdf format (ps/doc/rtf not accepted).
  2. A ten-page abstract of the dissertation in pdf format.
  3. A letter of nomination from the thesis supervisor. Self-nominations are not admitted: each nomination must be sponsored by the thesis supervisor. The letter of nomination should concisely describe the scope and significance of the dissertation and state when the degree was officially awarded.
  4. Two additional letters of support, including at least one letter from a referee not affiliated with the academic institution that awarded the Ph.D. degree.

All documents must be submitted electronically (preferably as a zip file) to Ian Pratt-Hartmann ( Hard copy submissions are not allowed. In case of any problems with the email submission or a lack of notification within three working days, nominators should write to Ian Pratt-Hartmann.

Important Dates

Deadline for Submissions: May 5th, 2014.
Notification of Decision: July 14th, 2014.
Committee :
Julian Bradfield (Edinburgh)
Wojciech Buszkowski (Poznan)
Michael Kaminski (Haifa)
Marco Kuhlmann (Linköping)
Larry Moss (Bloomington)
Ian Pratt-Hartmann (chair) (Manchester)
Ruy de Queiroz (Recife)
Giovanni Sambin (Padua)
Rob van der Sandt (Nijmegen)
Rineke Verbrugge (Groningen)

Brian Leiter Should Apologize

Submitted by Richard Zach on Mon, 03/10/2014 - 12:18am

In a (since removed) long post on his widely read blog, Brian Leiter attacked my colleague Rachel McKinnon, calling her "singularly unhinged" and "crazy".  I don't know what to say, except that I hope an apology for this singularly unprofessional outburst is forthcoming.

Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy (JHAP) Essay Prize

Submitted by Richard Zach on Tue, 03/04/2014 - 11:24am

JHAP is an international open access, peer reviewed publication that aims to promote research in and provide a forum for discussion of the history of analytic philosophy. ‘History’ and ‘analytic’ are understood broadly. JHAP takes the history of analytic philosophy to be part of analytic philosophy. Accordingly, it publishes historical research that interacts with the ongoing concerns of analytic philosophy and with the history of other twentieth century philosophical traditions.

JHAP invites submission for its first Essay Prize Competition. 

The competition is open to PhD candidates and recent PhDs (no more than 3 years at the time of submission). Articles on any topic in the History of Analytical Philosophy are welcome. There are no constraints on length.

Authors are requested to submit their papers electronically according to the following guidelines:

1) Papers should be prepared for anonymous refereeing, 2) put into PDF file format, and 3) sent as an email attachment to the address given below -- where 4) the subject line of the submission email should include the key-phrase "JHAP ESSAY PRIZE submission", and 5) the body text of the email message should constitute a cover page for the submission by including i) return email address, ii) author's name, iii) affiliation, iv) paper title, and v) short abstract.


Submission Deadline: 1 September 2014

Adjudication: The winner of the competition will be decided by a committee composed of members of the editorial board.

Prize: The winning article will be published in a special issue of JHAP and the author will receive a cash prize.

Philosophy of Mathematics Postdoc at Nancy or Paris

Submitted by Richard Zach on Sat, 03/01/2014 - 9:10pm

One year Post-doc Fellowship in the context of the ANR-DFG research   program MATHEMATICS: OBJECTIVITY BY REPRESENTATION (MathObRe) at the Laboratoire d'Histoire des Sciences et de Philosophie—Archives Henri-Poincaré, Nancy (UMR 7117) or at the Institut d'Histoire et de Philosophie des Sciences, Paris (UMR 8590).

We invite applications for a postdoctoral fellowship for 12 months  in the academic year 2014/15 (October 1st 2014 to September 30th 2015) in the context of the project mentioned above. The project aims to study the relation between mathematical objectivity and the role of representation in mathematics from a philosophical point if view, with particular attention to historical development of mathematics and to mathematical practice. The directive lines of the project are available here:

The successful candidate is expected to contribute to the realization of this project and to reside in Nancy or Paris during the whole your of her/his grant. The decision where she/he should reside in Nancy or Paris throughout the year will be taken by ourselves, according to the research topic. The grant amount (1600-1800€/month after taxes) is set by French regulations. We encourage to apply young scholars having received their doctoral   degree in the last 5 years in the domain of philosophy of mathematics and the like with a proven potential to conduct and publish research at a level of international excellence.

Applications should include:

  • A (brief) letter of application including personal information academic background, and research interests
  • A proposal for a research project (3-4 pages) aiming to contribute to MathObRe
  • CV including a list of publications, talks, conferences attended  and teaching experience.
  • One or two recommendation letters from a recognised scholar in the field.

This material is to be sent by e-mail to  Gerhard Heinzmann and Marco Panza before April 30th at midnight (French time). Decisions will be made by May 31th, 2014.

Carnegie Mellon Summer School in Logic and Formal Epistemology

Submitted by Richard Zach on Fri, 02/21/2014 - 11:57am

In 2014, the Department of Philosophy at Carnegie Mellon University will hold a three-week summer school in logic and formal epistemology for promising undergraduates in philosophy, mathematics, computer science, linguistics, economics, and other sciences.The goals are to introduce promising students to cross-disciplinary research early in their careers, and forge lasting links between the various disciplines. 

The summer school will be held from Monday, June 2 to Friday, June 20, 2014 on the Carnegie Mellon campus. Tuition and accommodations are free. 

Further information and instructions for applying can be found at:

Topics by week:

The Topology of Inquiry
Monday, June 2 to Friday, June 6
Instructor: Kevin T. Kelly

Causal and Statistical Inference
Monday, June 9 to Friday, June 13
Instructor: David Danks

Philosophy as Discovery
Monday, June 16 to Friday, June 20
Instructor: Clark Glymour

Materials must be submitted to the Philosophy Department by March 14, 2014. Inquiries may be directed to Professor Teddy Seidenfeld (

Rudolf Haller, 1929-2014

Submitted by Richard Zach on Tue, 02/18/2014 - 2:44pm

Sad news from Fritz Stadler, director of the Institue Vienna Circle:

Mit großer Betroffenheit und tiefer Trauer haben wir heute vom Ableben von Univ.Prof. Rudolf Haller erfahren. Er war in der österreichischen Philosophie und Wissenschaft ein Pionier und eine außergewöhnliche Erscheinung. Seine gewinnende Persönlichkeit mit Expertise, Menschlichkeit, Offenheit und Humor war einzigartig. Das Institut Wiener Kreis verliert einen langjährigen Förderer und Mitstreiter – seit seiner Gründung den langjährigen Vorsitzenden des wissenschaftlichen Beirats. Ich persönlich beklage den Verlust eines unersetzlichen Mentors, Kollegen und Freundes. Seine letzten Lebensjahre waren von einer schweren Krankheit überschattet. Unser Mitgefühl gilt seiner Witwe und seinem Sohn. Rudolf Haller wird uns sehr fehlen und immer in Erinnerung bleiben. Ein Nachruf folgt.

With great sadness we have learnt of the passing of Prof. Rudolf Haller. He was a pioneer of Austrian philosophy and science and a singular presence. His winning personality, a combination of expertise, humanity, openness and sense of humor, was without equal.  The Institute Vienna Circle has lost a long-time supporter and colleague -- he chaired the scientific advisory board since its inception.   I personally mourn the loss of an irreplaceable mentor, colleague, and friend.  His last years were darkened by severe illness.  Our condolences go out to his widow and his son.  Rudolf Haller will be missed and always remembered. An obituary will follow.

Wien, 18. Februar 2014 Fritz Stadler

Join the Association for Symbolic Logic -- Now 50% Off!

Submitted by Richard Zach on Tue, 02/04/2014 - 11:30am

If you're reading this blog, you should probably be a member of the Association of Symbolic Logic -- the venerable academic society for logic and its applications, the people who bring you the best journals in the field (The Journal, Bulletin, and Review of Symbolic Logic), the Perspectives and Lecture Notes in Logic book series, three logic conferences in North America and one in Europe every year, and travel stipends to these and other logic conferences for graduate students.  If you're gainfully employed as a logician, please support the ASL by becoming a full member.

New members may now join at a special introductory rate for two years, at 50% off the regular fee.  Students, emeriti and unemployed get those 50% off always.

2014 Society for Exact Philosophy

Submitted by Richard Zach on Tue, 01/21/2014 - 3:30pm

See here.

The 2014 meeting of the Society for Exact Philosophy will be held 22-24 June 2014 at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, CA.

Postdoc in Proof Theory at TU Vienna

Submitted by Richard Zach on Tue, 01/21/2014 - 3:26pm

A position as post-doctoral researcher is available in the Group for Computational Logic at the Faculty of Mathematics of the Vienna University of Technology. This position is part of a research project on the proof theory of induction. The aim of this project is to further deepen our understanding of the structure of proofs by induction and to develop new algorithms for the automation of inductive theorem proving. Techniques of relevance include cut-elimination, witness extraction, Herbrand's theorem.

2014 Kurt Gödel Research Prize Fellowships Program

Submitted by Richard Zach on Wed, 01/08/2014 - 10:24am


(Organized by the Kurt Gödel Society with support from the John Templeton Foundation)

The Kurt Gödel Society is proud to announce the commencement of the Kurt Gödel Research Prize Fellowships Program "The Logical Mind: Connecting Foundations and Technology."

NASSLI 2014 Student Session CfP

Submitted by Richard Zach on Wed, 12/11/2013 - 6:11am

The North American Summer School in Logic, Language and Information wil be held June 23-27, 2014 in College Park, MD.  A call for papers for the student session was just issued; deadline is February 24.

Summer School at MCMP for Women Formal Philosophy Students

Submitted by Richard Zach on Wed, 12/04/2013 - 9:13am

Wow, awesome. Lecturers include Rachael Briggs, Sonja Smets, and Florian Steinberger.

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.

Maria Reichenbach (1909-2013)

Submitted by Richard Zach on Mon, 12/02/2013 - 9:07pm

Help sought for a biography of Richard Montague

Submitted by Richard Zach on Fri, 11/29/2013 - 5:06pm

Ivano Caponigro at UCSD writes:

I'm working on a biography of Richard Montague (1930-1971) that aims to reconstruct his intellectual and personal life, his contributions, and his legacy.  Please contact me if you knew him personally (or just met him a few times) or have any material from him or about him (letters, manuscripts, pictures, audio recordings, etc.) or if you know anybody who knew him or may have material about it.


Mancosu on Pasternak (!)

Submitted by Richard Zach on Fri, 11/15/2013 - 2:12pm

My Doktorvater Paolo Mancosu has a new book: Inside the Zhivago Storm, on the publication history of Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago.

That's the kind of scholar Paolo is: write a 400-page literary thriller because his duties as department chair at Berkeley keep him from doing his "real" work as a logician and philosopher of mathematics.

From the publisher:

In Inside the Zhivago Storm. The Editorial Adventures of Pasternak’s Masterpiece, Paolo Mancosu, Professor of Philosophy at the University of California at Berkeley, provides a riveting account of the story of the first publication of Doctor Zhivago and of the subsequent Russian editions in the West. Exploiting with scholarly and philological rigor the untapped resources of the Feltrinelli archives in Milan as well as several other private and public archives in Europe, Russia, and the USA, Mancosu reconstructs the relationship between Pasternak and Feltrinelli, the story of the Italian publication, and the pressure exercised on Feltrinelli by the Soviets and the Italian Communist Party to stop publication of the novel in Italy and in other countries.

Doctor Zhivago, the masterpiece that won Boris Pasternak the Nobel Prize in 1958, had its first worldwide edition in 1957 in Italian. The events surrounding its publication, whose protagonists were Boris Pasternak and the publisher Giangiacomo Feltrinelli, undoubtedly count as one of the most fascinating stories of the twentieth century. It is a story that saw the involvement of governments, political parties, secret services, and publishers. In Inside the Zhivago Storm. The Editorial Adventures of Pasternak’s Masterpiece, Paolo Mancosu, Professor of Philosophy at the University of California at Berkeley, provides a riveting account of the story of the first publication of Doctor Zhivago and of the subsequent Russian editions in the West. Exploiting with scholarly and philological rigor the untapped resources of the Feltrinelli archives in Milan as well as several other private and public archives in Europe, Russia, and the USA, Mancosu reconstructs the relationship between Pasternak and Feltrinelli, the story of the Italian publication, and the pressure exercised on Feltrinelli by the Soviets and the Italian Communist Party to stop publication of the novel in Italy and in other countries. Situating the story in the historical context of the Cold War, Mancosu describes the hidden roles of the KGB and the CIA in the vicissitudes of the publication of the novel both in Italian and in the original Russian language. The full correspondence between Boris Pasternak and Giangiacomo Feltrinelli (spanning from 1956 to 1960) is also published here for the first time in the original and in English translation. Doctor Zhivago is a classic of world literature and the story of its publication, as it is recounted in this book, is the story of the courage and of the intellectual freedom of a great writer and of a great publisher.

Philosophy in the SSHRC Insight Grant Competition

Submitted by Richard Zach on Mon, 11/11/2013 - 5:22pm

The Insight Grant Adjudication Committee (Committee 1C) for the 2013 Insight Grant competition of SSHRC, on which I served, prepared the following statement when the results of the competition were announced in April. We sent it to the CPA to distribute, but somehow it fell throught the cracks.  They did post an excerpt of an earlier letter which was sent to all Canadian philosophy departments inApril on their forum a month ago though.  I'm posting it here and now for the record.

(La version française suit)

The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) funds research projects by Canadian philosophers through its Insight Grant program. This program replaced the Standard Research Grant program in 2011. In the 2012 competition, the results of which were just announced, 13 applications were funded.  This represents a success rate of 21%, down from last year’s 18 applications funded (success rate: 26.5%).

This is bad news. But Canadian philosophers should understand some hidden factors driving the trend. Under SSHRC's old system, each disciplinary committee was allocated a separate pot of money, where the size of the pot was determined by a formula involving the number of applicants to that committee and the total budget requested in each application. After ranking applications on their merits, committees were at liberty to trim the budgets of successful applicants in order to fund more applications (but to a lesser degree), and Philosophy was quite aggressive about doing so (resulting in a higher success rate for our committee than for some others).  

Under the new Insight Grant system, the application success rate is standardized to be the same across all committees.  For the 2012 competition, committees in all disciplines (Economics, Linguistics, etc.) had the same 21% application success rate.  Instead of tinkering with individual budgets, the appropriateness of an applicant's budget was factored into the "feasibility" score, so applicants whose budgets were sharply out of line with the norms (median request: $23k per year) tended to suffer numerically.  It remained possible for the committee to make a rough budget cut on an excellent proposal (say, funding just 50% or 75% of what someone asked), but it was hard to do this while still allocating that proposal the near-perfect score on feasibility needed to make the top-of-the-list position that was necessary for funding. Some large projects were certainly funded, but they needed excellent justifications for their large budget requests.

It is important to understand that the drop in the national success rate was driven not primarily by increased stringency on SSHRC’s part, or a decrease in overall funding, or any bias against Philosophy, but by an increase in the number of applications across all committees: the Insight Grant went from 1,821 applications in 2011 to 2,220 applications in 2012, an increase of 399 applications (21.9%).  Meanwhile, Philosophy marked an exception to this general trend: we went from 68 applications in 2011 to 62 applications in 2012, a decrease of 8.8%.  If Philosophy had increased on a par with other disciplines, we would have had 83 applications, and with this year’s standardized success rate of 21% we would have been able to fund 17 of them, very close to last year's 18 applications funded.

One factor for the decrease in Philosophy applications may have been that last year’s success rate was lower for Philosophy than it has been in the past, and applicants may have been discouraged from even trying.  This is exactly the wrong thing to do, especially in a climate in which disciplines other than Philosophy are responding to the fixed success rate by sharply increasing their number of applications.  

In many departments, SSHRC grants are vital both to the support and to the training of graduate students. It is in the interest of Canadian Philosophy and our graduate programs that as many eligible faculty members as possible apply.  It may be a pain, and discouraging not to be funded. But it can be useful to prepare a research plan, and it’s not much work to do some small revisions to research plans that were unsuccessful in the past. The very same proposal can pass from an insufficient ranking in one year to being funded in the next, for a number of reasons (budget appropriateness, different letters of assessment, different adjudication committee, different fields of applications). There were many excellent proposals this year that very narrowly missed being funded.

Le Conseil de recherches en sciences humaines du Canada (CRSH) subventionne les projets de recherche des philosophes canadiens par son programme des subventions Savoir. Ce programme a remplacé en 2011 le programme des subventions ordinaires de recherche. Au concours de 2012, dont les résultats viennent tout juste d’être annoncés, 13 subventions ont été approuvées. Cela représente un taux de succès de 21%, alors que l’année dernière, 18 projets avaient été financés pour un taux de succès de 26,5%.

Ce résultat est une mauvaise nouvelle. Les philosophes canadiens doivent comprendre que certains facteurs peu apparents ont joué.

Sous l'ancien régime, chaque comité disciplinaire disposait d'une somme donnée, déterminée par une formule qui tenait compte du nombre de demandes reçues par le comité, ainsi que du total des budgets demandés. Après avoir classé les demandes au mérite, les comités pouvaient à leur gré réduire la somme accordée aux candidats retenus pour subvention afin de financer plus de projets (de façon un peu moins généreuse). Le comité de philosophie usait assez largement de cette possibilité, ce qui assurait à ce comité un taux de succès plus élevé qu’à d’autres comités.

Dans le nouveau système des subventions Savoir, le taux de succès est normalisé de façon à être identique pour tous les comités. Donc, en 2012, toutes les disciplines ont eu le même taux de succès de 21%. Il n’est plus question d’ajuster les budgets de façon détaillée, mais seulement de vérifier s’ils sont globalement adéquats, en notant la « faisabilité » du projet : ainsi toute demande dont le budget s’écarte significativement de ce qui apparaît raisonnable (compte tenu d’un budget moyen demandé de quelque 23K$) tend à être numériquement défavorisé dans l’évaluation. Quoiqu'il demeure possible de réduire (par exemple de 25% ou même 50%) un budget jugé excessif pour un excellent projet de recherche, le fait d'avoir à le faire fait perdre des points au chapitre de la faisabilité, alors qu’une note quasi maximale est requise pour figurer en tête de liste et être financé. Certains projets au budget élevé ont été certes approuvés, mais seulement moyennant d’excellents justifications.

Il est important de comprendre que la baisse constatée du taux de succès général n'a été due ni à un resserrement des critères de la part du CRSH, ni à une baisse du financement disponible, ni à un quelconque préjugé contre la philosophie. Elle résulte uniquement de l'augmentation du nombre total des demandes pour l’ensemble des comités, nombre qui est passé de 1821 en 2011 à 2200 en 2012, soit 399 demandes ou 21,9% de plus. La philosophie a fait exception à cette tendance générale, avec 62 demandes en 2012, 8,8% de moins qu’en 2011 où il y en avait eu 68. Si les philosophes avaient fait comme les chercheurs des autres disciplines, nous aurions eu 83 demandes, ce qui, compte tenu du taux de succès normalisé de 21% aurait vraisemblablement donné 17 subventions octroyées, soit presque le même nombre que les 18 de l'an passé.

Le nombre décroissant des demandes en philosophie pourrait s’expliquer du moins en partie par le fait que le taux de succès, l’année dernière, avait été plus faible qu’antérieurement, ce qui pourrait avoir dissuadé certains philosophes de tenter leur chance. Or il faudrait réagir de manière exactement contraire, surtout dans un contexte où les autres disciplines s’ajustent au taux de succès fixe en augmentant nettement le nombre de leurs demandes.

Les subventions du CRSH jouent un rôle essentiel dans le financement et la formation de nos étudiants gradués. Il est de l’intérêt de la philosophie au Canada et de nos programmes d’études supérieures que le plus grand nombre de professeurs et chercheurs éligibles se portent candidats. Il peut être pénible, voire décourageant de ne pas être financé. Mais il peut être profitable d’élaborer un programme de recherche et le modeste effort requis pour réviser un projet, précédemment refusé, peut valoir amplement la peine : il semble bien établi, en effet, qu’un programme similaire de recherche peut recevoir une note insuffisante une année et se voir financer l'année suivante, pour diverses raisons (ajustement du budget, lettres d’évaluation différentes, changement dans la composition du comité, autres champs d’application). Cette année, plusieurs excellentes demandes ont manqué de très peu d'être financées.

SEP Entry on Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem

Submitted by Richard Zach on Mon, 11/11/2013 - 4:59pm

The Stanford Encyclopedia now has a separate entry on Gödel's incompleteness theorem (by Panu Raatikainen).

(Juliette Kennedy's entry on Gödel also covers incompleteness.)

LaTeX for Philosophers

Submitted by Richard Zach on Sat, 11/09/2013 - 11:49am

This last Thursday I held a little workshop to tell our graduate students about LaTeX.  Since LaTeX is fairly commonly used by philosophers, I thought they should at least know what it's all about.  I made a presentation (the handout version contains additional info).  I didn't have time to provide a list of documents/sites to check out or detailed instructions (and wouldn't really know how to do that, as e.g., I haven't installed TeX on a Windows machine in at least a decade, and never on a Mac).  We did play around with a few packages and experiment with BibTeX as a group.  Nice that WriteLaTeX lets you do that without even signing up for a free account!

PDFs of the presentation are attached to this post if you want to have a look, and the source code is on my GitHub.  I unlicense'd it, so feel free to use it for your own workshops on LaTeX for Philosophers (or other non-techy acedemics).  Suggestions for additions, requests for changes, typos, etc.: comment and/or file an issue on GitHub.

Gödel's Incompleteness Theorems Formally Verified

Submitted by Richard Zach on Fri, 07/12/2013 - 6:24am

Going through old emails, I found the following announcement by Larry Paulson, posted to the FOM list by Jeremy Avigad.  Good stuff, including the link to Stanis?aw ?wierczkowski's monograph in Dissertationes Mathematicae where he carries out the proof of the incompleteness theorems in HF, the theory of hereditarily finite sets.


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