Long ago, I posted a piece here under the mournful title “Logic disappearing over the horizon ….”.
I’ve just had an invitation to give a talk at the University of X, a distinguished place, with a philosophy graduate community of about fifty (according to their website). So I checked out how much logic/phil maths is going on, what I could reasonably take as given. Zilch. Apart from a first year course perhaps approaching the level of my intro logic book, nothing at all, as far as I can tell. Which leaves me a bit bereft of anything to go to talk about. But more to the point, it means that for students at X a central swathe of the work of lasting value from the last hundred years has disappeared over the horizon. Which is, shall we say, a pity.
My sense is that this is happening more and more in UK universities. I’d be delighted to learn that I’m wrong.
There was some discussion on the blog at the time, not very cheering. And my current sense is that the situation is getting worse and worse. How many logic-orientated posts in philosophy departments have been advertised and filled in the UK in the last dozen years? Very few, as far as I know.
And things are just as grim, if not more so, with the philosophy of mathematics. Here is Jeremy Avigad, in a recent essay which I’ve just noticed:
A recent analysis of tenure-track positions advertised in Jobs for Philosophers in the 2021–2022 academic year doesn’t even mention philosophy of mathematics in its categorization. Digging into the data shows that the phrase “philosophy of mathematics” occurs in only three of the 201 advertisements, in each case listed among multiple areas of potential interest. Surely this is an indication that the field is no longer viewed as important. It is sad that a discipline that was so central to the philosophical tradition from ancient times to the middle of the twentieth century now barely registers a pulse.
An Avigad now would, it seems, have a pretty hard time getting an academic post in philosophy. Sad indeed.
Is it always the fate of those in their declining years to think important bits of their world are falling apart? Probably so. But we’re not always wrong to thing so ….