Philosophy of Logic and Language, including History of Analytic Philosophy

The Logic and Language research cluster is one of the three clusters of strength which function as foci for research activity in the unit. It supports members’ individual efforts and collaborations across the range of research activities, including publications, conferences and workshops, research grants, and a wide range of interdisciplinary, impact and public engagement activities, providing one route by which the unit contributes to the University-wide research theme of Cultures, Communities and Society.

The cluster has developed organically from its members’ work and is the source of recent and ongoing projects in the metaphysics and epistemology of modality, formal approaches to epistemology and the conceptualization of probability and risk, the foundations of mathematics, and the nature of logical and more broadly of a priori knowledge. The cluster includes a notable strength in the history of analytic philosophy, focusing on the works of Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein and Ramsey.  This historical work is driven by a concern with substantive philosophical issues, for instance about the nature of thought, rationality and knowledge, that are shared with the unit’s other research clusters, with the natural result that major collaborative projects tend to be cross-cluster activities.

Recent collaborative projects include:

  • Varieties of Risk, AHRC-funded project (2020-23), in collaboration with Edinburgh Philosophy and project partners Glenmore Lodge (Scottish Outdoor Training Centre) and the Scottish Avalanche Information Service. This project brings together researchers in philosophy, economics, and psychology to discuss the prospects of a form of risk pluralism. [Also part of the Mind and Knowledge cluster]
  • Knowledge Beyond Natural Science, funded by the John Templeton Foundation (2017-19), in collaboration with the University of British Columbia. This project conducted parallel investigations into the nature and role of self-knowledge and the a priori, evaluating the challenge they pose to naturalistic models of ourselves and our cognitive lives. Among other public-facing activities, this project delivered a series of Cafés Philosophiques at Blackwell’s Bookshop, Edinburgh. A major UKRI Future Leadership Fellowship project, Agency, Rationality, and Epistemic Defeat (2021-25), was first conceived and developed within this project. [Also part of the Mind and Knowledge cluster]
  • Diaphora: Philosophical Problems, Resilience and Persistent Disagreement (2016-19), Marie Curie European Training Network with six other European universities plus NGOs. A training platform for collaborative research on the nature of philosophical problems, their resilience and the sources of persistent divergence of expert opinion about them, and their relation to conflicts in the practical sphere.  Stirling’s specific contribution to this project focused on a priori knowledge.

In addition, the cluster has supported individual research projects, including Towards a Non-Uniform Epistemology of Modality (AHRC Leadership Research Fellowship, 2015), and When Logic Gives Out (Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship, 2013-15), which hosted the frege@Stirling series of workshops. The Stirling Early Analytic Group hosts a series of occasional workshops which aims particularly to integrate research students into our research.

PhD graduates supervised within the cluster have worked in recent years on a broad range of topics, including issues in the philosophy of mathematics, the foundations of logic, and historical topics ranging from the early analytic philosopher’s break with post-Kantian idealism, through Russell and the Vienna Circle, to the later thought of Wittgenstein. Recent research students from this cluster have gone on to academic posts at Keio University, Japan, and the Universities of Edinburgh and Manchester.

Related outputs

Ebert PA & Rossberg M (2019) Contemporary Reviews of Frege's Grundgesetze. In: Essays on Frege's Basic Laws of Arithmetic. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 637-651.

Johnston C (2019) Solipsism And The Graspability Of Fact. In: Wittgenstein and the Limits of Language. New York: Routledge.

Sullivan P (2019) Varieties of Alien Thought. In: Miguens S & Travis C (eds.) The Logical Alien. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Wright C (2019) Oxonian Scepticism about the A Priori. In: Beyond Sense? New Essays on the Significance, Grounds, and Extent of the A Priori. Oxford: Oxford University Press.