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Gender Differences in Philosophical Intuitions

Submitted by Richard Zach on Tue, 09/28/2010 - 10:50am

Buckwalter and Stich just posted a very interesting survey of results concerning gender differences in answers given to philosophical thought experiments.  That there are such differences is one of the factors considered in explanations of the underrepresentation of women in philosophy -- if women have the "wrong" intuitions in these cases more often than men do, it might turn them off from pursuing philosophy.  Interestingly, the one case that figures in my classes that's discussed is Putnam's twin earth experiment. And here women actually have the "right" intuition more often than men do.

The paper's here and there's comment thread at Feminist Philosophers. Brian Leiter might also open a comment thread on the paper on his blog.

The paper also has data (some new) on the rate of representation of women in philosophy worth looking at. Here's the abstract:

In recent years, there has been much concern expressed about the underrepresentation of women in academic philosophy. A full explanation of this troubling phenomenon is likely to be quite complex since there are, almost certainly, many factors that contribute to the gender disparity. Our goal in this paper is to call attention to a cluster of phenomena that may be contributing to the underrepresentation of women in philosophy, though until now these phenomena have been largely invisible. The findings we review indicate that when women and men with little or no philosophical training are presented with standard philosophical thought experiments, in many cases their intuitions about these cases are significantly different. We suspect that these differences could be playing an important role in shaping the demography of the profession. But at present this is only an hypothesis, since we have no evidence that bears directly on the causal relation between the gender gap in academic philosophy and the facts about intuition that we will recount. In future work, we plan to focus on that causal link. However, we believe that thefacts we report about gender differences in philosophical intuitions are both important and disturbing, and that philosophers (and others) should begin thinking about their implications both for philosophical pedagogy and for the methods that philosophers standardly use to support their theories. It is our hope that this paper will help to launch conversations on these issues both within the philosophical community and beyond.

Margaret J. Osler, 1942-2010

Submitted by Richard Zach on Thu, 09/16/2010 - 2:53pm


My colleague and friend Maggie Osler died yesterday.  She was a wonderful person, and an admirable scholar of early modern science and natural philosophy, the Scientific Revolution, and especially on Boyle, Descartes, Gassendi, and Newton.

University of Calgary obituary

Serious Contender for Proof that P ≠ NP

Submitted by Richard Zach on Thu, 08/12/2010 - 4:13am

If you're here for the philosophy you might not have heard: a few days ago, Vinay Deolalikar of HP Labs has posted a draft paper containing a serious attempt to prove that P ? NP, one of the Clay Mathematics Institute's Millennium Problems.  The math/theory scene is all aflutter over it. This wiki page collects the current state of the discussion in various places, notably on Dick Lipton's blog Gödel's Lost Letter. It's a problem in computational complexity theory—the logic connection is that the proof uses a result due to Immerman and Vardi from finite model theory, viz., that over finite ordered structures, the relations expressible in first-order logic with a least fixed point operator FO(LFP) are exactly the polynomial-time computable ones.  Alas, the prevalent opinion now seems to be that the proof is probably not correct.

Carnap Workshop, Vienna, June 28 and 29

Submitted by Richard Zach on Tue, 06/22/2010 - 8:26am

The Institute Vienna Circle is hosting a workshop on Carnap next week, June 28 and 29.  The program is here.

Two Assistant Professorships in Logic at Hannes Leitgeb's Group in Munich

Submitted by Richard Zach on Mon, 06/21/2010 - 9:05am

These two Assistant Professorships in philosophy have just been advertised
at LMU Munich (see below). The deadline for applications is July 2nd, 2010. (German language skills are not mandatory.) Soon also several postdoctoral and doctoral positions in philosophy (at the new Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy) will also be advertised.

(1) Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich is seeking applications for an
Assistant Professorship in Logic and Philosophy of Language
at the Chair for Logic and Philosophy of Language (Professor Hannes
Leitgeb) at the Faculty for Philosophy, Philosophy of Science and the Study
of Religion. The position, which is to start from October 1st 2010, is for
three years with the possibility of extension. Technically, it is a
so-called 'Akademische Ratsstelle auf Zeit' in the Bavarian university
system, which means basically that one has the rights and perks of a civil
servant.

The appointee will be expected (i) to do research in logic and philosophy
of language, (ii) to teach five hours a week in these or in related areas,
and (iii) to contribute to the new Munich Center for Mathematical
Philosophy (MCMP) which is about to be founded at the LMU. The successful
candidate will have (iv) a PhD in philosophy or logic, and (v) teaching
experience in philosophy or logic.

The appointment will be made within the German A13 salary scheme. More
information on this position can be found at:

http://www.uni-muenchen.de/aktuelles/stellenangebote/wissenschaft/20100617151216.html


Women are currently underrepresented in the Faculty, therefore we
particularly welcome applications for this post from suitably qualified
female candidates. Given equal qualification, severely physically
challenged individuals will be preferred.


Applications (including CV, certificates, list of publications) should be
sent to

Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
Fakultät für Philosophie, Wissenschaftstheorie und Religionswissenschaft
Geschäftsstelle
Hauspost Fach 41
Geschwister-Scholl-Platz 1
80539 München

E-Mail: alexander.nawrath@lrz.uni-muenchen.de

by July 2nd, 2010.
Contact for informal inquiries: Prof. Dr. Hannes Leitgeb

(2) Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich is seeking applications for an
Assistant Professorship in Mathematical Philosophy
at the new Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy (MCMP) which will be
tied to the Chair in Logic and Philosophy of Language (Prof. Dr. Hannes
Leitgeb) at the Faculty for Philosophy, Philosophy of Science and the Study
of Religion. The position, which is to start from October 1st 2010, is for
three years with the possibility of extension. Technically, it is a
so-called 'Akademische Ratsstelle auf Zeit' in the Bavarian university
system, which means basically that one has the rights and perks of a civil
servant.

The appointee will be expected (i) to do philosophical research assisted by
logical or mathematical methods, (ii) to teach five hours a week in areas
of philosophy in which logical or mathematical methods are applied, and
(iii) to take on management tasks in the new Munich Center for Mathematical
Philosophy. The successful candidate will have (iv) a PhD in philosophy or
logic, and (v) teaching experience in philosophy or logic.

The appointment will be made within the German A13 salary scheme.

More
information on this position can be found at:

http://www.uni-muenchen.de/aktuelles/stellenangebote/wissenschaft/20100617151904.html

Women are currently underrepresented in the Faculty, therefore we
particularly welcome applications for this post from suitably qualified
female candidates. Given equal qualification, severely physically
challenged individuals will be preferred.

Applications (including CV, certificates, list of publications) should be
sent to

Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
Fakultät für Philosophie, Wissenschaftstheorie und Religionswissenschaft
Geschäftsstelle
Hauspost Fach 41
Geschwister-Scholl-Platz 1
80539 München

E-Mail: alexander.nawrath@lrz.uni-muenchen.de

by July 2nd, 2010.
Contact for informal inquiries: Prof. Dr. Hannes Leitgeb

LogBlog Has Moved!

Submitted by Richard Zach on Mon, 06/21/2010 - 8:42am

Two months ago, Blogger turned off FTP publishing on blogs, which meant I couldn't update LogBlog anymore.  It's taken a while, but the blog has now moved.  Well, I managed to import all the old posts into Drupal, the CMS we use at the University of Calgary and which generates the rest of my site.  I still need to fix the URLs, add archive pages, get the blogroll to display, etc., but at least I can post again.  Your feed reader should be automatically redirected to the new feed, but if it isn't, here's the URL:

http://www.ucalgary.ca/rzach/rss.xml

If you find any broken links, disappeared images, commenting weirdness, etc., do let me know!

If you see this, I probably don't have to tell you the new URL for the mainpag, but in any case, here it is:

http://www.ucalgary.ca/rzach/blog/

PM@100

Submitted by Richard Zach on Sun, 05/23/2010 - 10:05am

Here are my slides from my PM@100 talk.

Truth Values

Submitted by Richard Zach on Thu, 04/01/2010 - 4:39pm

Rózsa Péter

Submitted by Richard Zach on Wed, 03/24/2010 - 3:48pm

Happy Ada Lovelace Day!

Rózsa Péter (1905-1977) was a Hungarian mathematician and early contributor to the theory of (primitive) recursive functions. She received her PhD in 1935 from (what is now) Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest. Her fellow student Laszlo Kálmár had introduced her a few years earlier to the then brand-new work of Gödel, and she proceeded to study the class of (primitive) recursive functions first clearly defined by Gödel in his 1931 incompleteness paper. In a number of articles in the 1930s, she laid the groundwork for the study of hierarchies of sub-recursive functions and clarified the notion of primitive recursive function. I'll just mention four of her contributions on the subject: In her paper, "Über den Zusammenhang der verschiedenen Begriffe der rekursiven Funktion" (Math. Ann., 1935) she showed that course-of-values recursion and nested recursion can be reduced to ordinary primitive recursion. In "Konstruktion nichtrekursiver Funktionen" (Math. Ann., 1935), Pétér simplified and expanded on Ackermann's work, and proved that there are multiply recursive but not-primitive recursive functions. In "Über die mehrfache Rekursion" (Math. Ann., 1937), she studied multiple recursion in more detail and showed that the hierarchy of k-recursive functions is proper. In "Zusammenhang der mehrfachen und transfiniten Rekursionen" (JSL, 1950), she proved the equivalence of k-fold recursion and transfinite recursion along ?k. Her early work on primitive recursive function theory is set out in her monograph, Rekursive Funktionen (1951), translated into English as Recursive Functions (1967). She also wrote a popular book on mathematics, Playing with Infinity, which was translated into 14 languages.

Pétér was barred from teaching in 1939 due to her Jewish heritage, but obtained positions at the Budapest Teacher's College in 1945 and at her alma mater in 1955. She was the first female mathematician to be elected to the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. She retired in 1976.

Women in Science (San Diego Supercomputer Center)
Biographies of Women Mathematicians (Agnes Scott College)
MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive

Philosophy of Mathematical Practice Online

Submitted by Richard Zach on Wed, 03/24/2010 - 3:32pm

If you have access to Oxford Scholarship Online, you can now read Mancosu's excellent collection The Philosophy of Mathematical Practice via the internets.

Contemporary philosophy of mathematics offers us an embarrassment of riches. But anyone familiar with this area will be aware of the need for new approaches that will pay closer attention to mathematical practice. This book provides a unified presentation of this new wave of work in philosophy of mathematics. This new approach is innovative in at least two ways. First, it holds that there are important novel characteristics of contemporary mathematics that are just as worthy of philosophical attention as the distinction between constructive and non constructive mathematics at the time of the foundational debates. Secondly, it holds that many topics that escape purely formal logical treatment — such as visualization, explanation, and understanding — can be nonetheless be subjected to philosophical analysis. The book comprises an introduction and eight sections. Each section consists of a short introduction outlining the general topic followed by a related research article. The eight topics selected represent a broad spectrum of contemporary philosophical reflection on different aspects of mathematical practice: visualization, diagrammatic reasoning and representational systems, mathematical explanation, purity of methods, mathematical concepts, philosophical relevance of category theory, philosophical aspects of computer science in mathematics, philosophical impact of recent developments in mathematical physics.

Robin Milner, 1934-2010

Submitted by Richard Zach on Tue, 03/23/2010 - 3:42pm

Robin Milner died on March 20. He was a leading theoretical computer scientist who developed the LCF theorem prover, the ML programming language, and introduced the ?-calculus. He was founding director of the Laboratory for Foundations of Computer Science at the University of Edinburgh and then Professor of Computer Science at Cambridge. Milner was a Fellow of the Royal Society, a Fellow of the ACM, and winner of the Turing Award.

People Who Oscillate

Submitted by Richard Zach on Mon, 03/08/2010 - 7:08am

From today's mini-AIR:

The Oscillating Humans Project, announced here, is searching for a living specimen - an exemplar - of an oscillating human.

DEFINITION: For purposes of the project, an Oscillating Human is someone who consistently, repeatedly, over many years, expresses opinions directly opposite to opinions he or she expressed earlier, always ignoring and/or denying the existence of copious, easily found clear documentation of the earlier opinions.

PURPOSE: The exemplary person, once identified, will serve as an example for teachers to use in logic classes. To minimize the chance of lawsuits, the exemplar must be a "public person", with (as stated above) for whom there is copious, easily found, clear documentation of years and years of oscillation.

If you know of an outstanding specimen, please send:

1. The name and a 20-word biographical sketch of the person.
2. Several URLs pointing to clear, unarguable documentation.

Send to: OSCILLATING HUMANS PROJECT: marca AT improbable.com

NOTE: This is an education project. It is NOT an exercise in naming people you don't like. No screeds, please.

Oscillating Humans Literature Review

Published research about this form of human oscillation may be scarce. One of the few apparently relevant items — judging it by its title, if not by its contents, is this British study:

"Oscillation of Human Performance as a Personality Measure," Michael A. Tainsh, Perceptual and Motor Skills, vol. 35, no. 2, October 1972, pp. 677-8.

Truly pertinent citations will be welcomed.

Putting God in Gödel

Submitted by Richard Zach on Fri, 02/26/2010 - 9:59pm

Attack on Logicians at King's College London

Submitted by Richard Zach on Fri, 02/19/2010 - 5:23pm

Sorry for the long silence...

You may have heard by now, but in case you haven't: The Group in Logic, Language, and Information at King's College is threatened by "budget cuts": looks like the administration is just willfully destroying it by firing several faculty.

Information and links to protest sites etc. given here.

The Development of Modern Logic Online

Submitted by Richard Zach on Tue, 10/20/2009 - 1:27am

Leila Haapaaranta's collection The Development of Modern Logic came out earlier this year. It's a handy one-volume compendium to the history of logic in the modern era (full disclosure: I have an article in it). The price tag might still be a bit steep: $150, although that buys you over 1,000 pages of scholarship in an attractive hardback volume! But if you have access to Oxford Scholarship Online, you can now also read the book over the intertubes.

Also online now: JC Beall's Spandrels of Truth.

Videos from Foundational Adventures Conference

Submitted by Richard Zach on Mon, 10/19/2009 - 7:04pm

Last May, Ohio State had a conference in honor of Harvey Friedman's 60th birthday. Videos of the talks are now available (via Neil Tennant). These include talks by Friedman himself, as well as John Burgess, Sam Buss, Mic Detlefsen, Sol Feferman, Hartry Field, Rohit Parikh, Grisha Mints, Wilfried Sieg, Ted Slaman, Patrick Suppes, and many others.

T-Rex on Hilbert's Infinite Hotel

Submitted by Richard Zach on Mon, 10/19/2009 - 2:37pm

Per Lindström, 1936-2009

Submitted by Richard Zach on Wed, 10/14/2009 - 5:33pm

From the ASL Newsletter, I just learned that Per Lindström died two months ago:

Per (Pelle) Lindström, the Swedish logician, died in Gothenburg, Sweden, on August 21, 2009, after a short period of illness. He was born on April 9, 1936, and spent most of his academic life at the Department of Philosophy, University of Gothenburg, where he was employed first as a lecturer ('docent') and, from 1991 until his retirement in 2001, as a Professor of Logic. Lindström is most famous for his work in model theory. In 1964 he made his first major contribution, the so-called Lindström's test for model completeness (c.f., Chang & Keisler, Model Theory, 3rd ed., Thm. 3.5.9: if a countable set of first-order sentences has only infinite models, is categorical in some infinite power, and is such that the set of its models is closed under unions of chains, then it is model complete). In 1966 he proved the undefinability of well-order in L?1? (obtained independently and in more generality by Lopez-Escobar), an early example of the use of recursion theory to obtain model-theoretic results. The same year he also introduced the concept of a Lindström quantifier, which has now become standard in model theory, theoretical computer science, and formal semantics. The paper also contains a characterization of elementary logic among logics with generalized quantifiers, generalizing a result by Mostowski. The proof uses Lindström's version of what is now known as Ehrenfeucht-Fraissé (EF) games, a concept he came up with independently. Another paper from 1966 ("On relations between structures") gives a powerful and extremely general formulation of a preservation/interpolation theorem, again based on EF games. These results were published in the Swedish philosophical journal Theoria and written in an extremely terse style, which had the effect that they escaped the notice of most of the logic community for a while. It was his 1969 paper "On extensions of elementary logic" (also in Theoria), where he presented his famous characterizations of first-order logic---Lindström's Theorem---in terms of properties such as compactness, completeness, and Löwenheim-Skolem properties, that was first recognized as a major contribution to logic. It laid the foundation of what has become known as abstract model theory (c.f., Barwise & Feferman (eds.), Model-Theoretic Logics, 1975). The proof was based on EF games and on a new proof of interpolation, following the line of argument in the papers on relations between structures and Lindström quantifiers. Several other characterizations of first-order logic followed in later papers. Beginning at the end of the 1970's, Lindström turned his attention to the study of formal arithmetic and interpretability. He started a truly systematic investigation of this topic, which had been somewhat dormant since Feferman's pioneering contributions in the late 1950's. In doing so he invented novel technically advanced tools, for example, the so-called Lindström fixed point construction, a far-reaching application of Gödel's diagonalization lemma to define arithmetical formulas with specific properties. His approach to interpretability was based on the study of related lattices, such as the lattice of interpretability types over a fixed extension of Peano Arithmetic (PA), or the lattices of ?n- and ?n -sentences over PA, for some fixed n, and he established many interesting structural properties of these. Other memorable results include the Lindström-Solovay theorem that the interpretability relation between sentences over PA is ?20-complete and the characterization of faithful interpretability over PA as a combination of ?1- and ?1-conservativity. In the 1990's, he also contributed to the area of provability logic: he gave a simplified proof of the de Jongh-Sambin fixed point theorem and characterized the bimodal logic of PA and PA augmented by the reflection rule: infer a sentence ? from '? is provable'.

Pelle Lindström had an exceptionally clear and concise style in writing mathematical logic. His 1997 book, Aspects of Incompleteness, remains a perfect example: it provides a systematic introduction to his work in arithmetic and interpretability. The book is short but rich in material; it also contains some results one cannot find in journal publications, for example, his solution to one of the 102 problems formulated by Harvey Friedman.

Throughout his life, Pelle Lindström also took an active interest in philosophy. He participated in the debate following Roger Penrose's new version of the argument that Gödel's Incompleteness Theorems show that the human mind is not mechanical. He presented his own philosophy of mathematics, which he called 'quasi-realism', in a paper in The Monist in 2000. It is based on the idea that the 'visualizable' parts of mathematics are beyond doubt (and that classical logic holds for them). He counted as visualizable not only the ?-sequence of natural numbers but also arbitrary sets of numbers, the latter visualizable as branches in the infinite binary tree, whereas nothing similar can be said for sets of sets of numbers, for example. Moreover, he made numerous contributions over the years to the Swedish popular philosophy journal Filosofisk Tidskrift---one of these will be published posthumously---on subjects as diverse as the freedom of will, the mind-body problem, utilitarianism, and counterfactuals.

Pelle Lindström will be remembered by the logic community as a great logician, and by his family, friends and colleagues as a remarkable human being.

Reforming Graduate Education

Submitted by Richard Zach on Mon, 10/12/2009 - 3:00pm

New book out from Princeton UP on the Graduate Education Initiative of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, discussed on Inside Higher Ed. Not sure if any philosophy departments participated. In light of previous discussion on differential attrition rates for women in the pipeline, this should be interesting:

Chapter 7 addresses a matter of continuing concern among students, their professors, and administrators. Do marriage and childbearing affect the chances men and women have of completing their degrees and of doing so promptly? Although these questions are not at issue in the GEI, they are important. As a result, we made sure the student survey would yield data on students’ marital status when they entered graduate school and whether they had children at the time. In light of the increasing numbers of women earning PhDs in all fields and their very significant representation in the humanities, having an understanding of the relationships linking gender, marital status, and parenthood and the collective impact of all three on completion and TTD is likely to become increasingly important in the years ahead. Gender differences on average favor men, but we find these differences are due solely to the fact that married men do better than single men and single women. Marriage benefits men but does not do the same for women.

Women in the Academic Pipeline II

Submitted by Richard Zach on Mon, 10/12/2009 - 2:18am

Following up on my previous post, Women in the Academic Pipeline, where I compared rates at which women earned BAs and PhDs in various fields in the US: what does it look like in the faculty ranks? Not surprisingly, the percentages in general go down as you go higher, but there are some interesting (and disturbing) things to notice. First, the data:

Teaching field BA PhD Lecturer/
Instructor/
Other
  Assistant   Associate   Full  
Biological sciences 62.2% 46.5% 47.7% ±7.5% 37.9% ±7.3% 25.9% ±5.9% 20.4% ±5.4%
Computer and information sciences 25.1% 22.0% 31.9% ±4.9% 27.1% ±11.6% 31.6% ±12.5% 26.8% ±14.3%
Engineering 18.8% 17.7% 11.3% ±5.0% 10.2% ±7.1% 9.2% ±4.3% 4.3% ±2.8%
english 68.9% 60.3% 67.3% ±4.2% 60.4% ±12.1% 56.5% ±12.1% 41.7% ±9.0%
Mathematics and statistics 46.0% 28.1% 42.3% ±5.9% 32.9% ±13.2% 24.5% ±11.7% 17.8% ±7.2%
Philosophy 29.2% 31.4% 23.8% ±12.3% 14.0% ±12.3% 29.3% ±21.8% 12.6% ±12.9%
physical sciences 41.7% 27.8% 31.6% ±6.9% 29.3% ±10.4% 19.1% ±7.8% 8.9% ±4.4%
Social sciences 50.9% 42.6% 33.1% ±5.4% 36.2% ±8.7% 32.6% ±7.2% 19.7% ±4.5%


This data comes from the U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2004 National Study of Postsecondary Faculty (NSOPF:04) and was generated from a table generated using their convenient QuickStats feature. The BA and PhD percentages come from the previous post, for 2003-04 graduates.

The representations of women among Assistant Professors in philosophy (14%) is much lower than expected, and among Associate Professors (24%) much higher than expected. Why? Are the women getting stuck at the Associate Professor rank? In most fields women are better represented in the instructor ranks than in the PhD pool, except in engineering, the physical sciences, and philosophy. And in computer science, the line goes up and not down. Sign something they did in the 90s to increase women representation among faculty worked?

UPDATE: Prompted by Kenny's comment, I computed the errors on those figures, and since they are rather large for some data points (especially for philosophy), take these with a grain of salt! And ignore the last paragraph.

UPDATE: Women in philosophy by tenure status

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