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Sunday, June 13, 2004

The Status of Logic in Philosophy II

As a follow-up to my previous post, I took it upon myself to survey graduate program logic requirements. Of the top 50 US PhD programs (according to the Gourmet Report), every one has a logic requirement of some form or another. 15 require only an introductory course in formal logic (propositional and predicate logic, formalization, and proofs). I was surprised that Harvard and MIT are among them. The others require at least some metatheory: 17 programs want their students to do completeness, Löwenheim-Skolem and compactness proofs. At some schools (Rutgers, Pitt, Texas, Wisconsin, Washington), the advanced logic requirement is satisfied by a one-semester course covering completeness, undecidability and incompleteness. (I suppose it's possible to do that, but I have a hard time getting all that covered in an entire year.) Only at Arizona you can get away without taking logic.

Very few programs seem to make their students learn logic that's specifically interesting for philosophy. At CUNY, Rohit Parikh teaches the Logic Core course that covers propositional and predicate logic, Kripke semantics, Lewis's and Stalnaker's theory of conditionals, and incompleteness. That is the only program, as far as I can tell, that requires a specifically philosophical logic course. Several others have a requirement that stipulates that students take "an approved logic course," and I assume a course in modal logic or formal semantics would count there (Irvine, Davis, UMass, Syracuse, UConn, UVa, and Miami).

At the undergraduate level, logic requirements are also still common in the US. Only Arizona, Cornell, Duke, Johns Hopkins, UConn, and USC don't seem to have a required logic course in their BA programs. Almost all the top 30 require formal logic; however, almost none of the programs between 30 and 50 require more than informal logic.

Of the five ranked Canadian programs, Toronto and Western require formal logic; McGill requires a course in metalogic; UBC doesn't have a logic requirement; and I couldn't tell from their website if Alberta does or not. Outside North America, I had a hard time figuring out program requirements. It seems that UK and Australasian departments don't have formal breadth/depth/etc. requirements. I found reference to a logic requirement only on LSE's website.

So: The consensus still seems to be that it's important to a philosophy graduate education to learn logical metatheory (at least model theory). That's good, I think. It gives students an appreciation for what logic is about. I don't know what to think of the one-semester course on everything (completeness, incompleteness, undecidability, etc.). That seems to me to be way too much to cover in one term; at least, too much to cover well and in depth in one term. But maybe someone can tell me how to do it? Is that a more useful course to have than just a basic metalogic course? And is it better to have a course like that, or like Parikh's?

UPDATE: I started putting up the results of that survey here.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Blog Rules

Brian Weatherson has started a discussion about rules as to what it is ok to write about in philosophy blogs. This was taken up by Lindsay Beyerstein and Gustavo Llarull. In the comments at TAR, I suggested that it's doubtful that new rules are needed. Blogging is a relatively new phenomenon, but academic discussion (in print, at conferences and seminars, and also on the internet) is not. Jeremy Aarons replied that I may have underestimated the fact that blogging is a form of publishing. But so is posting to Usenet, publishing a paper, giving a talk or filing a dissertation.

Is there anything that makes blogging different from other occasions where you might be faced with a judgment call as to whether it would be acceptable to use someone else's ideas, and in what form? Permanence only distinguishes it from oral communication; the actual audience for any particular blog is probably not greater than the audience for any particular newsgroup; the potential audience for anything published in written form is more or less the same; and the original authors of the ideas have an opportunity to respond on blogs just as they do in other media (publicly or privately).

Is there anything that makes academic blogging about philosophy different from academic exchange in other media? Again, I don't think so, but I'd be interested to hear what others think.

That is not to say that bloggers shouldn't be reminded of the issues that Brian raised. In particular, they should be reminded of the dangers of doing anything right after leaving the bar. It is generally a bad idea to blog about a drunken discussion about philosophy where you write about someone else's views. Not only might it be rude, if not unethical, to publicize what someone else said while drunk, the chances that what you yourself say about it will be wrong increase significantly as well.