Thursday, December 18, 2008

Summer School in Logic and Formal Epistemology at CMU

Information about the 2009 program can be found here.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

ISIPTA Second Call for papers

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ISIPTA '09 - 2nd CALL FOR PAPERS
=====================================
Your help with circulating this announcement locally is much
appreciated. Apologies for multiple postings.

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ISIPTA '09
6th International Symposium on Imprecise Probability:
Theories and Applications

Tuesday 14 to Saturday 18 July 2009
Durham University, Department of Mathematical Sciences
Durham, United Kingdom
http://www.sipta.org/isipta09

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The ISIPTA meetings are the primary international forum to present and discuss new results on the theories and applications of imprecise probability.

Imprecise probability is a generic term for the many mathematical and statistical models and methods, allowing us to measure chance or uncertainty without the restriction of sharp probabilities. These models include lower and upper expectations or previsions, interval-valued probabilities, sets of probability measures, belief functions, Choquet capacities, comparative probability orderings, fuzzy measures, possibility measures, plausibility measures, and sets of desirable gambles. Imprecise probability models are needed in inference and decision problems where the relevant information is scarce, vague or conflicting, and where preferences may be incomplete.

Symposium format
----------------

It is a tradition of the ISIPTA meetings that we try to avoid parallel sessions. Each accepted paper is to be presented both (i) in a plenary session, where we ask for a short introduction and sketch of the context and relevance of the paper; and (ii) in a poster session, where ample opportunity and time is given for detailed explanation and discussion.

For the 2009 meeting, we also invite posters without a paper. We hope to attract people who wish to present and discuss their work within the framework of the conference but whose results are not yet finalized, for instance, for practitioners who wish to discuss possibilities for applications in their field using imprecise probabilities, or for starting students. If you wish to present a poster without paper, you are invited to submit a one-page abstract of the work you intend to present. These abstracts will be made available at the conference and online.

Themes of the symposium
-----------------------

The symposium is open to contributions on all aspects of imprecise probability. But we particularly welcome contributions on imprecise probability in statistical inference and decision making.

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

- models of coherent imprecise assessments
- sets of probability measures, credal sets
- interval-valued probabilities
- upper and lower expectations or previsions
- non-additive set functions, and in particular Choquet capacities (and
Choquet integration), fuzzy measures, possibility measures, belief and
plausibility measures
- random sets
- rough sets
- comparative probability orderings
- qualitative reasoning about uncertainty
- imprecision in utilities and expected utilities
- limit laws for imprecise probabilities
- physical models of imprecise probability
- philosophical foundations for imprecise probabilities
- psychological models for imprecision and indeterminacy in probability
assessments
- elicitation techniques for imprecise probabilities
- robust statistics
- probabilistic bounding analysis
- data mining with imprecise probabilities
- dealing with missing data
- estimation and learning of imprecise probability models
- decision making with imprecise probabilities
- ambiguity aversion and economic models of imprecise probability
- uncertainty in financial markets
- algorithms for manipulating imprecise probabilities
- Dempster-Shafer theory
- information algebras and probabilistic argumentation systems
- probabilistic logic, propositional and first-order
- credal networks and other graphical models
- credal classification
- applications in statistics, economics, finance, management,
engineering, computer science and artificial intelligence,
psychology, philosophy and related fields.

Special sessions
----------------

In memory of Henry Kyburg and Pauline Coolen-Schrijner, two special sessions will be organized. The papers for these sessions will be selected by the steering committee.

Location
--------

ISIPTA '09 will be held at Durham University, Collingwood College, in Durham, United Kingdom. Collingwood College provides onsite ensuite accommodation. More information about Collingwood College can be found on this website:

http://www.dur.ac.uk/collingwood/

Important dates
---------------

For papers:

Paper submission deadline: January 30 2009
Notification of paper acceptance: March 15 2009
Deadline for revised papers: April 15 2009

For posters without paper:

Abstract submission deadline: April 15 2009
Notification of acceptance: May 1 2009

Symposium: July 14-18 2009

Submissions
-----------

Papers can be submitted electronically using the conference website
(http://www.sipta.org/isipta09/).

Programme Committee Board
-------------------------

Thomas Augustin (Ludwig-Maximilians University, Germany)
Frank Coolen (Durham University, UK)
Serafin Moral (Universidad de Granada, Spain)
Matthias Troffaes (Durham University, UK)

Steering Committee
------------------

Thomas Augustin (Ludwig-Maximilians University, Germany)
Frank Coolen (Durham University, UK)
Gert de Cooman (Universiteit Gent, Belgium)
Serafin Moral (Universidad de Granada, Spain)
Teddy Seidenfeld (Carnegie Mellon University, USA)
Matthias Troffaes (Durham University, UK)

Further details
---------------

For further details about (pre)registration, paper submission, scientific and cultural programme, programme committee, please consult the ISIPTA '09 web site at http://www.sipta.org/isipta09/.

Details about previous ISIPTA meetings can be found at
http://www.sipta.org/isipta/.

More information about SIPTA, the international organisation responsible for organizing both the ISIPTA meetings and the SIPTA Schools on Imprecise Probabilities, please consult the SIPTA web site at http://www.sipta.org.

Questions
---------

If you have any questions about the symposium, please contact the Steering Committee preferably by email (frank.coolen@durham.ac.uk or matthias.troffaes@gmail.com), or at the following address:

Frank Coolen / Matthias Troffaes
Department of Mathematical Sciences
Durham University
Science Laboratories, South Road
Durham, DH1 3LE, ENGLAND

Friday, October 31, 2008

FEW call for papers

CMU will host FEW this year. The conference is scheduled for June rather than May. The call for papers appears below:

*******************************************************

We are in the process of organizing our sixth annual formal epistemology workshop (the first, second, third, fourth, and fifth workshops were all great successes). The purpose of these workshops is to bring together individuals, both faculty and graduate students, using mathematical methods in epistemology in small focused meetings. Topics treated will include but are not limited to:

* Ampliative inference (including inductive logic);
* Game theory and decision theory;
* Formal learning theory;
* Formal theories of coherence:
* Foundations of probability and statistics;
* Formal approaches to paradoxes of belief and/or action;
* Belief revision;
* Causal discovery.

Besides papers with respondents, each workshop will typically include short introductory tutorials (two or three topically related presentations) on formal methods. These tutorials will be oriented particularly to graduate students.

The sixth workshop is scheduled for June 18 – June 21, 2009 and will be held at Carnegie Mellon University. We are now accepting submissions for FEW 2009. Please send submissions by email to Branden Fitelson. Submissions are due — in the form of full papers — by Sunday, March 15, 2009; notifications of acceptance either as definite presenters or as alternates will be sent out by Thursday, April 30, 2008. Some of the papers presented at FEW 2009 will appear in a special issue of the
Journal of Philosophical Logic.

Those interested in participating, either by presenting papers, responding, or providing tutorials, or in helping with organization, should contact one of the local organizers listed below. We can contribute $500 in travel funds for every graduate student who presents or comments on a paper. We are also able to contribute $250 in travel costs for a number (to be determined) of graduate students who attend the workshop without presenting or commenting on a paper. Priority will
be given to graduate students who have not attended previous workshops, and to women and minorities. Graduate students who wish to be considered for travel funding should contact Kevin Kelly or Richard Scheines (the local organizers this year) by May 1, 2009.

Kevin Kelly
Richard Scheines
CMU

Branden Fitelson
UC-Berkeley

Sahotra Sarkar
UT-Austin

----

NOTE: The FEW website is now located at:

http://fitelson.org/few/

We hope to see you all in Pittsburgh in June!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

New course at CUNY

Rohit Parikh is preparing a new course focusing on epistemic logic at CUNY.  Here are excerpts of the informal description of the course and some administrative data about the course itself:

PHIL 76800 - Epistemic Logic and Applications (Tuesdays 6:30-8:30)

Epistemic logic has gone through an explosive development since the publication of two books, Knowledge and Belief: An introduction to the logic of the two notions, by Jaakko Hintikka, and Convention: A philosophical study, by David Lewis.  Developments in epistemic logic have since influenced philosophy, computer science, economics, linguistics and social science. After doing a survey of the two books mentioned above, the course will proceed to cover more recent topics like common knowledge, logical omniscience, agreeing to disagree, "no-trade" theorems, cheap talk and knowledge updating.

Students will benefit more if they are familiar with propositional logic (which is pretty much required) and have some idea of Kripke structures, although the latter will be covered in the course.
******************************************

It seems that the course will cover both issues related to philosophical foundations and more applied and technical results.  There are few courses that manage to do both things at an excellent level so this seems a nice opportunity for students in the NYC area. 

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Two talks today in NYC

Greg Wheeler will give a talk on "Coherence and Confirmation" at 6:30 today in Rohit Parikh's seminar at CUNY Graduate Center. Also today, Thomas Kelly will give a talk on "Confidence and Belief Revision" at 4:10 in Philosophy Hall here at Columbia.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Today, in my mailbox ...

I found my copy of Epistemology: 5 questions. It looks great, and I can't wait to read it. Unfortunately I will have to do just that, since other work calls. However, unable to resist a brief look, I stumbled upon the following passage in Timothy Williamson's response to being asked what he regards as the most neglected topics and/or contributions in contemporary epistemology: "The best hope for progress in epistemology lies in the use of methods that have not been part of its stock and trade for centuries. Close to my heart, of course, are the methods of formal epistemology, especially epistemic logic and probability theory. The methods of experimental psychology also promise to shake up comfortable assumptions of belief-forming processes." Seems right to me!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Extended Deadline -- First European Graduate School for Philosophy of Language, Mind and Science

"Extended Deadline: 11th October 2008Bochum/Tilburg: First European Graduate School -- Philosophy of Language, Mind and Science

*Session 1: Rationality, Consciousness and the Architecture of the Mind10-14 November 2008Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Germany*Keynote Speakers: José Luis Bermúdez (Washington University St. Louis),Peter Carruthers (University of Maryland) and Michael Esfeld (University of Lausanne)

*Session 2: Reasoning and Decision Making17-21 November 2008Tilburg Center for Logic and Philosophy of Science (TiLPS), Tilburg University, The Netherlands*Keynote Speakers: Ulrike Hahn (Cardiff), MichaelPauen (HU Berlin), J.D. Trout (Loyola University Chicago) and Michiel van Lambalgen (University of Amsterdam)"

Additional information can be found here.

ISIPTA 09 - CALL FOR PAPERS

"The ISIPTA meetings are the primary international forum to present and discuss new results on the theories and applications of imprecise probability.Imprecise probability is a generic term for the many mathematical and statistical models and methods, allowing us to measure chance or uncertainty without the restriction of sharp probabilities. These models include lower and upper expectations or previsions, interval-valued probabilities, convex sets of probability measures, belief functions, Choquet capacities, comparative probability orderings, fuzzy measures, possibility measures, plausibility measures, and sets of desirable gambles. Imprecise probability models are needed in inference and decision problems where the relevant information is scarce, vague or conflicting, and where preferences maybe incomplete."

Additional information about ISIPTA 09, including the call for papers, can be found here.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Addendum to the previous post

Vincent Hendricks asked if I would post information about the new "5 Questions" volume. I'm happy to oblige. However, and not surprisingly, Horacio beat me to it! Well, in any case, the following information may be taken as an addendum to Horacio's post:

NOW AVAILABLE! Epistemology: 5 Questions Edited by Vincent F. Hendricks & Duncan Pritchard ISBN: 978-87-92130-07-5List Price: $38 / £28372 pages New York, London: Automatic Press / VIP Epistemology: 5 Questions is a collection of short interviews based on 5questions presented to some of the most influential and prominent scholars in epistemology. We hear their views on epistemology with particular emphasis on the intersection between mainstream and formal approaches to thefield; the aim, scope, the future direction of epistemology and how their work fits in these respects.

Buy from Amazon

"In your hands, you have a terrific collection of interviews about epistemology by some of the leading contemporary epistemologists. An impressive array of insight, charm, and iconoclastic comments by some of the people who changed the field forever. A must read!" - Otávio Bueno,University of Miami

"Vincent F. Hendricks and Duncan Pritchard have done the epistemology community a big favor: they have elicited revealing personal histories and comments on the state of the field from a variety of the field's leading researchers [...] It is both a snapshot of various influential research trajectories as they stand at the present time, and a collection of tantalizing suggestions for new avenues of research. I recommend it especially to those thinking about the connections between what Hendricks has elsewhere called "mainstream and formal epistemology." - Sanford Goldberg, Northwestern University

"Think of knowledge as a primitive concept, the dynamics of belief, reliable inquiry, social judgment. Think of mainstream epistemology, formal epistemology, scientific epistemology. Think of philosophy crossing with computer science, logic, psychology, sociology. Think of some of the main figures in these fields. Think of a lot of fun. Don't think twice: It's Epistemology: 5 Questions." - Hannes Leitgeb, University of Bristol

"Vincent F. Hendricks and Duncan Pritchard have produced a remarkable volume: the list of 29 interviewees reads like a "who's who" of leading contemporary epistemologists, and by carrying out interviews structured around 5 leading questions, the editors have produced a collection that anyone interested in recent and contemporary debates in epistemology will find both useful and entertaining." - Alexander Miller, University of Birmingham

Preface iii Acknowledgements v1 Horacio Arló-Costa 12 Sergei Artemov 113 Alexandru Baltag 214 Johan van Benthem 395 Luc Bovens 476 Lorraine Code 637 Fred Dretske 798 Pascal Engel 879 Robert J. Fogelin 9510 Richard Fumerton 10511 Clark Glymour 11712 Alvin I. Goldman 12113 Alan Hájek 13914 Joseph Y. Halpern 15515 Sven Ove Hansson 16716 Jaakko Hintikka 17917 Wiebe van der Hoek 18518 Kevin T. Kelly 19119 Hilary Kornblith 21120 Martin Kusch 21721 Jonathan L. Kvanvig 23122 Isaac Levi 24123 Rohit Parikh 25724 John L. Pollock 26725 Krister Segerberg 28326 Ernest Sosa 30527 Wolfgang Spohn 31128 Timothy Williamson 32329 Linda Zagzebski 335

Epistemology: 5 Questions

Vincent F. Hendricks and Duncan Pritchard have edited an interesting  new volume of the series 5 Questions which this time focuses on epistemology.  The list of invitees is eclectic and inclusive:  Arló-Costa, Artemov, Baltag, van Benthem, Bovens, Code, Dretske, Engel, Fogelin, Fumerton, Glymour, Goldman, Hájek, Halpern, Hansson, Hintikka, van der Hoek, Kelly, Kornbilth, Kusch, Kvanvig, Levi, Parikh, Pollock, Segerberg, Sosa, Spohn, Williamson, and Zagzebski.  

I have not received the book yet, but I already read some of the essays of the book and they seem really interesting. I am looking forward to reading the entire book.  This is an exciting and transformative moment for epistemology and the volume seems to capture much of the feeling of renewal that permeates  work of in the field today. 

Some reviews are already available:

Think of knowledge as a primitive concept, the dynamics of belief, reliable inquiry, social judgment.  Think of mainstream epistemology, formal epistemology, scientific epistemology. Think of philosophy crossing with computer science, logic, psychology, sociology.  Think of some of the main figures in these fields.  Think of a lot of fun. Don't think twice: It's "Epistemology 5 Questions."  Hannes Leitgeb, University of Bristol.


Thursday, September 4, 2008

Updated LaTeX for Philosophers

I've updated LaTeX for Philosophers with an easier to maintain site and some new typesetting solutions, including a few new entailment relations. Please feel welcome to send along tips or suggestions for the page.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Intuitionistic mathematics for physics

Andrej Bauer (mathematician, computer scientist, and old friend from Carnegie Mellon) has an interesting post on why he thinks intutionistic mathematics is good for physics (HTs to Brian Weatherson and Greg Restall).

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Random numbers (for free)

Prompted by a nice discussion that Horacio and I had concerning a possible experiment, I did some looking around for random number generators and stumbled upon this site that uses atmospheric noise as a source of randomness. The basic services on the site are free, but they do offer a premium generator. I'm not sure about the true randomness claims on the site, and I suppose that more pedestrian sources abound (e.g. perhaps variation in the time interval between successive beats of your heart), but the site is worth a look.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Final CfP: Kyburg Issue of Synthese

Horacio and I are editing a special issue of Synthese commemorating the work of Henry Kyburg. We have a distinguished list of invited contributions for the volume, but we are also soliciting an open call for papers. Submissions on any area of Kyburg's work are welcome. They should be formatted for blind review and e-mailed to me, grw at fct.unl.pt, or Horacio, hcosta at andrew.cmu.edu, before July 30, 2008.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Ramsey (1929) on distinctions between logic, mathematics, and philosophy

In "Philosophy" (1929) Ramsey states that "Logic issues in tautologies, mathematics in identities, philosophy in definitions; all trivial but all part of the vital work of clarifying and organizing our thought. " I'm assuming that Ramsey means to identify the central product in each of these fields, otherwise the statement reads like a platitude -- sure, Ramsey was just twenty-five when he made the comment, but we're talking about someone who D.H. Mellor, in his introduction to Philosophical Papers, seems to place above the likes of Moore, Russell, Whitehead, and Wittgenstein. In any case, if Ramsey intended something along the lines of the former, then his statement strikes me as wrong, at least from a modern view. Sometimes an important mathematical contribution comes in the form of a definition, as the successful isolation of a powerful idea. For example, consider some of the basic definitions from computability theory or, perhaps closer to mathematics proper, some of the fundamental ideas from category theory (e.g. natural transformation, adjoint functor).

Thursday, June 5, 2008

An entertaining interview with Clark Glymour

Logic and Rational Interaction has posted an entertaining interview with Clark Glymour. The interview is part of Epistemology: 5 Questions, a new collection edited by Vincent Hendricks and Duncan Pritchard.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Two PSM related items

First, congratulations to Wilfried Sieg on being named the Patrick Suppes Professor of Philosophy at Carnegie Mellon. Suppes, a student of Ernest Nagel and one of the editors of the volume that inspired this blog, is among the most distinguished scientific philosophers of his generation. For those of you who are not familiar with his work, I encourage you to look at the Collected Works of Patrick Suppes, an excellent resource that is available online. It is great to see Wilfried, who studied with Suppes at Stanford, receive this wonderful recognition of his own distinguished body of work.

Second, there is a very interesting interview with Isaac Levi in the July 2007 newsletter from the Society for Imprecise Probability: Theories and Applications. I know that Greg mentioned this a few months ago over on Certain Doubts, but I've taken the opportunity to mention it again since the interview gives nice insight into the work of another one of Nagel's outstanding students.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sidney Morgenbesser discussing the American Pragmatists

This might be old news to many people, but I just learned that YouTube is now carrying several programs in which Bryan Magee talks with philosophers such as Ayer, Quine, Putnam, and Morgenbesser. Many are familiar with the lore surrounding Magee's discussion with Sidney Morgenbesser. It is an understatement to say that Morgenbesser was not pleased with the program that resulted from his discussion with Magee. In light of this, it might be suggested that one should not draw attention to the program, that doing so is disrespectful. My reason for mentioning the program here is quite the opposite. By all accounts, Morgenbesser possessed a philosophical intelligence that was remarkable in both power and direction, but he published comparatively little. Magee's discussion with Morgenbesser is one of a small number of opportunities that are available to those who wish to learn more about this remarkable philosopher. So, without further ado ...

Section 1



Section 2



Section 3



Section 4



Section 5


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Thanks, but I can read the paper myself.

You've decided to walk over to the philosophy department at your university to hear a talk by a distinguished visitor. As a faculty member working in cognitive science you are excited by the prospect of interdisciplinary collaboration, and you've heard about some interesting work being done over in the philosophy department. You did a philosophy minor in college, but you've never attended a talk by a professional philosopher. You walk over to the building that houses the philosophy department and then climb the stairs to the room where the talk is being held. The room is packed, and you struggle to find a seat. Finally, the speaker makes his way to the front of the room. He clears his throat, takes a sip of water and then ... wait for it ... wait for it ... starts to read his paper out loud. You wonder why you bothered schlepping over to the other side of campus just to hear some guy read his paper, a paper that you could have read yourself at a more convenient time.

Whenever I mention this tradition to academics in other fields (e.g. computer science, mathematics), they seem amazed that this sort of thing is allowed (as if one could expect most states to have laws against it). Now, I don't think the philosophical community is under any obligation to explain its traditions to colleagues in other fields, but why is reading the paper OK (or even preferable) when it comes to giving a talk in a philosophy department? I think it is easy to appreciate how the practice seems odd, or even suspicious, to colleagues in mathematics or the sciences. What can be said in support of this practice in light of these sorts of reactions?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Synthese edits two special issues on the foundations of the decision sciences.

Jeff Helzner and Horacio Arló-Costa are editing two special issues of the journal Synthese on the foundations of the decision sciences. The first issue is now completed but some articles are still under review. We will announce soon the date of publication of the first issue.

The idea of these issues is to offer a broad view of recent foundational work in the many branches of the decision sciences, from evolutionary game theory to behavioral decision theory to classical foundational work on axiomatic accounts of decision under uncertainty. The contributors include both philosophers engaged in theoretical or experimental work and decision scientists with an interest in foundations.

Contents of the first issue

L. Bovens and W. Rabinowicz, The puzzle of the hats.

S. Huttegger, B. Skyrms, R. Smead, K. Zollman, Evolutionary dynamics of Lewis signaling games: Signaling vs. partial pooling.

P. Maher, Bayesian probability.

N-E. Sahlin, A. Wallin and J. Persson, Decision science: From Ramsey to Dual Process Theory.

T. Seidenfeld, M.J. Schervish, J.B. Kadane, Coherent choice functions under uncertainty.

I. Levi, Probability logic, logical probability and inductive support.

I. Gilboa, A. Postlewaite and D. Schmeidler, Rationality of belief: Or: Why Savage's axioms are neither necessary nor sufficient for rationality.

D. Samet, S5 knowledge without partitions.

J. Baron, Cognitive biases in moral judgments that affect political behavior.

H. Arló-Costa and J. Helzner, Ambiguity aversion: The explanatory power of indeterminate probabilities.

Contributors to the second issue

S. Hartmann and J. Sprenger, A. Hájek and M. Smithson, J. Joyce, E. McClennen, C. Bicchieri, A. Rustichini, P.J. Hammond, G. Gigerenzer, J. Collins, and W. Spohn.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Handbook of Analysis and its Foundations

Paul Halmos remarked in his automathography that a good way to learn a lot of mathematics is by reading the first chapters of many mathematics books. Wouldn't it be nice, though, if there was a single book that eliminated the overlapping material such an exercise would entail, included frequent cross-references between topics, and sought to show the connections between various branches of mathematics...and all this between the covers of one volume for around a hundred bucks?

Eric Schechter has written such a book, "The Handbook of Analysis and Its Foundations", Academic Press, 1997.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

FotFS VII

FotFS VII, the next conference in the Foundations of the Formal Sciences series, will take place at Vrije Universiteit Brussel from October 21-24, 2008. Information about the conference, including the call for papers, can be found at

http://www.math.uni-bonn.de/people/fotfs/VII/.

Note that the submission deadline is July 15.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Maintaining connections with other disciplines

Earlier this term I had a chance to speak with Robert Friedman, a distinguished mathematician here at Columbia. During our conversation I suggested to Professor Friedman that it is important for philosophy to maintain contact with other disciplines and that surely he was familiar with analogous issues within mathematics -- lest you think that distinguished mathematicians at Columbia walk over to Philosophy Hall to seek the opinions of junior faculty, let me assure you that this was not the case on this occasion. Anyway, it was in the context of this exchange that I referred Professor Friedman to the following passage by von Neumann:

As a mathematical discipline travels far from its empirical source, or still more, if it is a second and third generation only indirectly inspired by ideas coming from "reality" it is beset with very grave dangers. It becomes more and more purely aestheticizing, more and more purely I'art pour I'art. This need not be bad, if the field is surrounded by correlated subjects, which still have closer empirical connections, or if the discipline is under the influence of men with an exceptionally well-developed taste. But there is a grave danger that the subject will develop along the line of least resistance, that the stream, so far from its source, will separate into a multitude of insignificant branches, and that the discipline will become a disorganized mass of details and complexities. In other words, at a great distance from its empirical source, or after much "abstract" inbreeding, a mathematical subject is in danger of degeneration. At the inception the style is usually classical; when it shows signs of becoming baroque, then the danger signal is up. (from "The Mathematician")
I'm not sure if Professor Friedman shares concerns of the sort that are suggested in this quote -- concerned that I had said something inappropriate, I reminded him of the following joke:
Q: What is the difference between a mathematician and a philosopher?
A: The mathematician only needs paper, pencil, and a trash bin for his work - the philosopher can do without the trash bin...
No, I don't think that this is the difference between mathematicians and philosophers, but it is a nice joke to have in your pocket if you are a junior philosopher in need of a little self-deprecation while in the company of a distinguished mathematician at your university.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

What sorts of things should we try to do in this forum?

A central aim of this blog, at least as I see it at this moment, is to promote matters that are of interest to those philosophers who maintain significant contact with mathematics or the sciences (natural, social, or artificial), either by way of the methods that they employ or the questions that they attempt to address. Within "mainstream" areas of philosophy one can point to several lively blogs that, among other things, serve as a place to do philosophy of that sort. Can blogging offer something comparable to the areas of philosophy that are of particular concern here?

Friday, April 18, 2008

About this blog

The name of this blog is taken from a well-known collection of essays in honor of Ernest Nagel. The purpose of this blog is to disseminate information about philosophical activity that is consistent with the sensibilities and commitments that are represented in that collection.