A busy week. A short but interesting talk by Bob Hale at the Moral Sciences Club on Tuesday on the very idea that there might be possible worlds where the laws of logic are different — what idea of possibility does that involve? Then on Wednesday afternoon, we’ve moved on from reading Charles Parsons to looking at Jeffrey King’s The Nature and Structure of Content. I can’t say I’m much attracted by his project, or by his theory of propositions — but I don’t think I’m exercised enough about the issues to put the energy into blogging about it here.
On Wednesday evening, a fun talk from Rob Trueman, one of our M.Phil. students, at the Serious Metaphysics Group. Suppose you reject the composition-is-identity thesis (as Rob thinks you should), so the train can’t just be identified with the carriages. Then why does moving the train take no more force than moving the carriages? Rob was arguing that the natural answers we might try have surprising consequences. I wasn’t convinced, but it was a fun evening (as ‘Serious’ certainly doesn’t mean ‘Solemn’).
I’ve been trying to keep the Thursday Logic Seminar accessible to the handful of undergraduate students actually doing our Math Logic paper. So this week and next we are looking at four chapters from Marcus Giaquinto’s The Search for Certainty, discussing Hilbert’s Programme and the impact of Gödel’s theorems on the Programme. I slightly disagree with Marcus’s reconstruction of Hilbert (see my discussion of two routes for getting from the consistency an ideal theory to its real-soundness on p. 256 of my Gödel book): but that’s very minor. Marcus’s book is terrific.
On Friday, a prolonged Staff-Student Committee meeting. Every so often, for one reason or another, the disconnect between what many students think they want (“more continental philosophy”) and what most professional philosophers in serious departments think they should get becomes dramatically evident. That’s happened from time to time everywhere I’ve been. Most departments engineer some muddled compromises, but the strains can tell.