BLC Newsletter February 2010

Registered Charity No 275541

President           Professor J M E Hyland [Cambridge]
Vice-President      Professor T Williamson FBA FRSE [Oxford]
Treasurer           Professor D Macpherson [Leeds]
Secretary           Dr N Alechina [Nottingham]
                     Dr U Berger [Swansea]
                     Dr E Ritter [Birmingham]
                     Dr G Wilmers [Manchester]


(2) Request for childhood stories of mathematics from Alexandre Borovik


(1) **** Call for Papers ****


September 20-22, 2010
Centre for Logic and Philosophy of Science, Ghent
University, Belgium

The idea that there is a strong connection between logic,
reasoning, and rationality,   which was very
popular among the philosophers of the Wiener Kreis, has long
been out of  fashion. Findings from history and
philosophy of science and from cognitive psychology have
revealed that the traditional logician's tool, Classical
Logic, is not fit for explicating human reasoning either in
the sciences or in everyday life. Times have changed,
however. Today, a multiplicity of formal frameworks (ranging
from non-classical  logics over probability theory to
Bayesian networks) is available in addition to Classical
Logic. Also, historians and philosophers of science as well
as psychologists have described a rich variety of patterns
in both scientific and common sense reasoning.

The aim of LRR10 is to stimulate the use of formal
frameworks to explicate concrete  examples of human
reasoning and, conversely, to challenge scholars in formal
studies by presenting them with interesting new examples of
actual reasoning. Therefore, we welcome papers in all areas
related to non-classical logics and non-classical formal
frameworks. We also welcome case studies from history and
philosophy of science, as well as from
psychology, that enhance our apprehension of concrete
reasoning patterns that occur in the sciences and in
everyday life. Finally, we welcome contributions that deal
with the philosophical implications of the present-day
insights for our understanding of rationality.

Contributions may cover topics from the following
(non-exhaustive) list:
- non-classical logics (adaptive logics, paraconsistent
logics, relevant logics, modal logics, non-monotonic logics,
epistemic and doxastic logics, erotetic logics, many-valued
logics, fuzzy logics, conditional logics, ...)
- formal methods in philosophy of science and in
epistemology (probability theory, bayesian and causal nets,
- knowledge and belief dynamics (belief revision, belief
merging, conceptual change, ...)
- reasoning patterns (induction, abduction, IBE, analogical
reasoning, model-based reasoning, inconsistency-handling,
defeasible reasoning, causal reasoning, argumentation
schemes, historical case-studies, ...)
- present-day views on rationality (bounded rationality,
rationality and values,fallibilism, ...)

Confirmed keynote speakers:
Arnon Avron, Diderik Batens, Giovanna Corsi, Newton da
Costa, Nancy Nersessian, Thomas Nickles, Graham Priest and
Andrzej Wisniewski

Practical information:
* If you would like to present a paper at the conference,
please submit an abstract (500 to 1000 words) by
MARCH 15, 2010 to the following e-mail
* Please write "ABSTRACT SUBMISSION" in the
Subject header of your mail.
* Abstracts can be submitted in .doc, .docx or .pdf.
Abstracts received will be acknowledged by e-mail. All
abstracts will be carefully refereed.

* March 15, 2010: deadline for submission of abstracts
* May 1, 2010: notification of acceptance of abstracts
* May 15, 2010: deadline for speaker confirmation of
* September 19, 2010: Academic Session in honour of Diderik
Batens (partly in Dutch, followed by a reception)
* September 20-22, 2010: Conference

(2) Request for childhood stories of mathematics, from Alexandre Borovik

Dear Colleague,

I send this unusual request to every mathematician or mathematically
educated person with an address in my contact list or my inbox.

I am writing a book on mathematical thinking, and I ask you to kindly
pass to me your recollections of challenges you encountered in your
early learning of mathematics. Such stories provide a fascinating
insight into the psychology of mathematical thinking and frequently lead
to surprisingly deep mathematics. One example of what I am looking for:

A girl aged 6 easily solved put a number in the box problems of the
type 7 + [ ] = 12, by counting how many 1s she had to add to 7 in order
to get 12 but struggled with [ ] + 6 = 11, because she did not know
where to start. Worse, she felt for years that she could not communicate
her difficulty to adults.

This example is one of many from my forthcoming book Shadows of the
Truth: Metamathematics of Elementary Mathematics,  (it is a follow-up to my recent book "Mathematics under the Microscope",  AMS, 2010, available from

Why do I appeal to mathematicians? Because you have a language that
allows you to express your childhood difficulties  for laymen, my
request would be much harder. And mathematicians tend to remember their "former" (or "inner"?) child. As Michael Gromov wrote to me in response to a similar request,

"My personal evaluation of myself is that as a child till 8-9,  I was intellectually better off than at 14.  At 14-15    I became interested  in math.  It took me about 20 years to regain  my 7 year old child perceptiveness."

Please send your stories at Please also give
me the following details:

[*] Your age when a particular episode happened.

[*] What was the language of mathematical instruction? Was it different
from your mother tongue?

My warmest thanks!

Alexandre Borovik

- Professor Alexandre Borovik -
- Check my book/blog

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