Now broadcasting from the desert
I have not posted in a long time -- I've been busy with my move from Pittsburgh to Las Vegas, and with all the craziness that attends moving cross-country and starting your life over. But we are starting to settle in, so blogging may pick up again soon.
Several months ago, Doug Patterson asked me if I could contribute something to a volume he's editing for OUP called Alfred Tarski: Philosophical Background, Development, and Influence. I was honored, since many of the other contributors breathe rarified logico-philosophical air, so I cobbled an article together out of various bits of my dissertation. I now have a draft of the paper, boringly entitled "Tarski's Nominalism," and I would greatly appreciate any and all feedback from interested readers. To help you determine whether you are an 'interested reader,' I've cut-and-pasted a bit of the intro:
"This essay aims to answer three related questions about Tarski's self-described 'nominalism with a materialistic taint' through an examination of Carnap’s 1941 dictation notes. First, what is Tarski’s view? Second, what are the rationales for his view? Finally, how does Tarski attempt to reconcile his nominalist philosophical scruples with mathematics, since mathematics deals with paradigmatically abstract objects, such as numbers and sets, whose rejection is a standard sine qua non of modern nominalism?"
As a brand-new Pitt HPS alumnus, I wanted to sing the praises of a couple members of the incoming class. First, Jonah Schupbach, of Berkeley, Bacon, & Bird blog-fame, just had a paper published in Philosophy of Science on one of my favorite topics, the evidential and explanatory role of unification in science. And Jason Byron (nee Baker) has written an article, forthcoming in BJPS, that argues for a point that I became convinced of while doing work for my dissertation. Just to get a sense for what the logical empiricists were thinking about in 1940, I flipped through a few journals from the 1930s that they were reading and publishing in, especially Erkenntnis and Synthese. I was very surprised to find that there were lots of articles on philosophical details related to biology -- some of them dealing rather closely with the science. This was surprising because the usual story among current philosophers of biology is that philosophy of science completely (or almost completely) ignored biology until the late 60s. Jason has now done the detailed spade-work needed to substantiate that impression I had.