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I just noticed that recently this site has been getting an odd amount of traffic, odd because it has not been updated in years. You should probably check out my academic website, which contains my recent info, abstracts of a couple of papers, and my current CV.

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The SEP article on Wilfrid Sellars has been updated with the addition of more internet resources. This is despite the passing of its author a while back. In any case, one of them appears to be quite nice. There is a link to a .pdf of some lectures given by Sellars at Notre Dame. The dates listed say 1969-1986. The document itself is 447(!) pages. It looks promising. Here is a snippet from one of the lectures, quoted in the introduction.

One of the basic tasks that philosophy has to do is to raise questions to open up conceptual possibilities… philosophers should not regard themselves as merely owls of Minerva who come back in the night after the day is done. They should also be “heralds of the dawn” who create the categories in terms of which science is rejuvenated.

The semester at Pitt has come to an end, and I declare victory over year three. It was a bit of a rough term. Posting has become a bit slow of late, but it should pick up again soon. Read the rest of this entry »

The other talk at BelnapFest I wanted to say something about was Phil Kremer’s, titled “How Truth Behaves When There’s No Vicious Reference.” Before the talk, Kremer gave Belnap a little present. He showed us a .pdf of a partial academic genealogy for Belnap.  Read the rest of this entry »

I spent the weekend at BelnapFest. It was an excellent conference with good talks. There were also a lot of fantastic anecdotes about Nuel and other members of the department. I got to meet several people whose work I’ve studied, which was a treat. Most of the conference attendees were Nuel’s old students and colleagues. It was  amazing to see how many first-rate philosophers and logicians have studied under him. I count myself lucky to have such an opportunity. I don’t have much to say about many of the talks, but I do have some thoughts on two of them, Urquhart’s and Kremer’s. I’ll begin with Urquhart’s and try to get to Kremer’s later.

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I’m rather fond of this quotation from Richard Montague. When I mention it to people, it tends to elicit either a hearty nod of agreement or a puzzlement about why anyone would ever think it. He says: 

I reject the contention that an important theoretical difference exists between formal and natural languages. … Like Donald Davidson, I regard the construction of a theory of truth — or rather, of the more general notion of truth under an arbitrary interpretation — as the basic goal of serious syntax and semantics.

That is from the opening of his “English as a Formal Language.” I usually only remember the first sentence, which is what gets the reactions. The second sentence quoted surprised me a bit, but it probably should not have. Montague worked on paradoxes as well as general topics in semantics. It is, perhaps, surprising that a theory of meaning does not come in as the basic goal of serious semantics. That might be slightly further on in the article.

More substantive stuff to come later this weekend.

This is a follow up to the previous post on Fregean epistemology of math. I want to rehearse a problem for the view, and a tentative response. I’m doubtful that the objection is original to me and would welcome a pointer to a discussion of the issue. The post went on for too long, so I decided to break it up into two parts. The second will follow soon.

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My break from blogging ended up slightly exceeding the planned time.  I hope I didn’t lose all my readers. 

I met my deadlines but needed to take some extra time to get back on top of other things. The upshot is that I think I’ve got some direction on research, which will likely make it into future posts. Substantive posting will resume this evening.

I’m not going to put up any of my own new content for another week or two yet, but there is a link I’d like to put up. Mark Wilson has a review of Fodor’s LOT 2 up on NDPR. It is fairly critical, mainly about the changes Fodor’s view (and argumentative style) have undergone since the first Language of Thought. It does a pretty good job of illustrating some of Wilson’s views that appear in his big book.

I’m going on a short blog hiatus to deal with some upcoming deadlines. I’ll resume posting in two to three weeks. In the mean time, I’ll leave a few links.

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Shawn Standefer, recent Ph.D. in philosophy from Pitt. (More about me)

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