It’s that time again when the weekend papers are full of their lists of books of the year. I have to say that so many recommendations sound frankly quite unappealing — surely, there’s a lot of literary virtue-signalling going on! — but that still leaves me wanting to read more than I will ever have time to get round to. But one book (perhaps not exactly a philosophy book but certainly of philosophical interest) which has been warmly recommended a number of times is Sarah Bakewell’s At the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being and Apricot Cocktails. I loved Bakewell’s book on Montaigne, How to Live. So, overcoming my analytical prejudices, I’ve just bought her new new book on Sartre and company as a holiday read. I’ll let you know what I think!
But what about logic books this year (or come to that, books on philosophical logic, philosophy of maths, or other topics broadly related to logic matters)? I have bought a number of older books in the last twelve months, but my haul of recent publications in logic, even broadly construed, seems to have been very modest. I’ve mentioned here two collections of essays, the Cambridge Companion to Medieval Logic, edited by Catarina Dutilh Novaes and Stephen Read (not quite what I’d hoped for) and Kurt Gödel, Philosopher-Scientist, edited by Gabriella Crocco and Eva-Maria Engelen (a very mixed bag, and pretty disappointing). But I balked at the price of another collection, Gödel’s Disjunction, edited by Leon Horsten and Philip Welch, as the papers again looked likely to be a pretty mixed bag: so I can’t comment on that. The only logic monograph I bought was the significantly expanded second edition of Alex Oliver and Tim Smiley’s Plural Logic. Otherwise, my purchases seem to have been more skewed towards pure mathematics — the most accessible and fun read being Barry Mazur and William Stein’s Prime Numbers and the Riemann Hypothesis.
So I’m not really in a position to recommend a logic (etc.) Book of the Year. All suggestions about what I’ve been missing out on will therefore be very welcome!
Update. I guess I should have mentioned the second edition of Hartry Field’s Science Without Numbers as of interest for its new fifty-page preface. But with this post now having already been read well over 800 times and with a dearth of new suggestions offered, perhaps my impression that 2016 hasn’t been a rich year for new books on logic/philosophy of maths is right!
8 thoughts on “Logic (etc.) books of the year?”
Professor Smith, Raymond Smullyan will soon publish the sequel to his ‘A beginner’s guide to mathematical logic’ (called ‘A beginner’s further guide to mathematical logic’, if I’m not mistaken). Once the book is out, it’d be great if you could elaborate a few thoughts on using both books as an introduction to first order logic on your next TYL or as a separate review. Thanks!
You are probably not asking about new textbooks, but I recently ran across and adopted a text called The Logic of Our Language that is truly different.
I have been using Gensler’s Introduction to Logic for the last five or six years, and it worked well with my students. However, I have an honors section coming up in the spring and really wanted a change. The Logic of Our Language is certainly that.
It is divided into three sections. The first section over five chapters covers the translation of first order logic with identity – just translation.
Section two basically says, ‘you know that stuff you just learned? put it on the back burner.’ It then introduces propositional logic, truth tables and trees for propositions and relations between propositions; no arguments yet.
The third section actually introduces arguments and trees for first order logic.
I am probably mad to attempt this, but this approach is so different, I thought it would be a good cure for whatever dogmatic slumbers were afflicting me.
Oh yea, I also forgot about John Stillwell’s Elements of Mathematics: From Euclid to Gödel, which I found very enlightening.
Two noteworthy publications:
(1) Gila Sher’s Epistemic Friction is a very ambitious book, and its fourth part is entitled “An Outline of a Foundation for Logic”; I’ve just skimmed the book, but, if you’ve been following Sher’s publications, there isn’t anything surprising there—though it’s nice to see how she develops her thoughts in the context of a more wide-ranging enterprise.
(2) Monika Gruber’s Alfred Tarski and the “Concept of Truth in Formalized Languages is a good commentary on the translation issues in Tarski’s famous paper (both to German and English). Again, as far as I could tell, no real novelty here, particularly if you read Hodges’s paper in Patterson’s 2009 collection and Patterson’s own 2012 book on Tarski. Still, it’s nice to have an authoritative source that sums up the whole discussion.
Another book that may be tangential to logic is Cresswell, Mares & Rini’s Logical Modalities from Aristotle to Carnap has more bearing on metaphysics than logic, but seems to have some nice papers (Speaking of modality, if you’re into Kant, Nicholas Stang, who has a paper in this collection, has just published a very nice account of Kant’s theory of modality).
Incidentally, I wasn’t aware that the second edition of Field’s book was already out; it’s still a pre-order on Amazon. Is the new preface worth it?
Not a logic book as it stands, but a newly published Category Theory in Context is definitely noteworthy.
Raymond Smullyan has published A Beginner’s Further Guide to Mathematical Logic, which is a sequel to his Beginner’s Guide to Mathematical Logic. I don’t think I am going to order it, although the last section on combinatory logic looks fun.
Yes, I have mentioned Emily Riehl’s book here before … but I guess, given its slant and approach, I’m for present purposes slightly arbitrarily counting it as pure maths rather than logic. But oh heavens: yet another Smullyan? — he’s an inspiration to us greybeards!
What is interestingly different about Category Theory in Context, compared to other category theory texts? I thought the book’s preface or the publisher’s web page for the book might say something about that, but neither do.
My aim for Category Theory in Context was to write a more discursive and somewhat more elementary version of Categories for the Working Mathematician. I think what distinguishes it from other books in the field is the relative primacy given to examples of categorical thinking applied in other areas of mathematics. A few of these connections relate to logic: for instance I mention the syntax–semantics Galois connection and the adjunction involving existential and universal quantification. But I agree with Peter’s contention that the book should be classified as pure maths, since mathematicians constitute the main intended audience and undergraduate courses in algebra and/or point-set topology are useful prerequisites.