Sexism in Philosophy and Mathematics

In a note on Nick Haverkamp’s Intuitionism vs. Classicism. A Mathematical Attack on Classical Logic, the reviewer Fred Richman, Professor for Mathematics in Florida, shows several bad judgements rolled into one. In the middle of his comments on the philosophical contents of the book, one finds the following sudden outburst:

“The author constantly uses the pronouns ‘her’ and ‘she’ in a gender-neutral setting. This juvenile affectation seems now to be de rigueur among male academic writers. I wonder if it helps them attract women or if it just makes them feel like cool dudes. Maybe they simply enjoy offending people, pour épater les bourgeois.”

So much comes to mind that one wonders what to say at all. Perhaps only two things:

1. It is bad judgement to think that a critical review of a young academic’s work is a good place for an old man’s rant about the youth gone astray. While this holds independently of the specific content of the rant, such an outburst is just obviously a wrong if that content doesn’t have anything to do with the substance of the work reviewed. But some old men apparently won’t learn that any more.

2. While I think that using the pronoun ‘she’ in a gender-neutral setting is an appropriate way of drawing attention to the curiosity of the habit of using ‘he’ in such a context, it can of course be discussed whether it is the best way, and also whether there are reasons to avoid this particular way. But note that the rant by Richman does nothing of that sort. Instead, it is a mere combination of sexist (surely, that is how to make women fall for you …) and outright stupid elements.

3. I do not think that editors should censor the work they publish, except in exceptional circumstances. How to define such circumstances, I do not know. But independently of that, the present case is a brilliant opportunity for the editors of Philosophia Mathematica to position themselves and publish an editorial notice in which they point out some advice on what should, and what shouldn’t, be part of a good review. That wouldn’t be censoring; it would just be the right thing to do.

Workshop Announcement: The Metaphysical ‘Because’ and the Foundations of Mathematics

PHLOX member Stephan Krämer and Prof. Benedikt Löwe are organizing an interdisciplinary workshop – The Metaphysical Because and the Foundations of Mathematics. The workshop is associated with Stephan’s ongoing DFG research project on the Logic and Metaphysics of Ground. It will take place in Hamburg, January 22nd 2016. Speakers are Hannes Leitgeb, Luca Incurvati, Johannes Korbmacher, and Nina Gierasimczuk. For further details, check out the official website.


Christian Folde from PHLOX is organizing an interdisciplinary workshop – Philosophy Meets Literary Studies II – together with Tilmann Köppe from the Courant Research Center in Göttingen and Janina Jacke from heureCLEA. It is the sequel of a workshop on Narratological Concepts and Interpretation which took place last winter.

The workshop will be held in Hamburg, January 15th-16th 2016, in the AS-Saal of the Hauptgebäude. Anyone interested is welcome to attend!

 Poster 2016_currie

If you want to read more about the idea of the workshop click here.

Phlox in the Summer

We are pleased to announce three events taking place next summer in which members of our Phlox-Group are involved. In collaboration with Benjamin Schnieder and Fabrice Correia, Tuomas Tahko will host a conference entitled “Ground, Essence and Modality” in Helsinki, 8-10 June 2016. It will be preceded by a workshop on the history of ground (especially on Bolzano) that also takes place in Helskini, 6-7th of June. This workshop will be generously financed by Kit Fine’s Anneliese Maier Grant. More information on both events and a call for papers can be found here. After the events in Helsinki, we will host a workshop with Kit Fine in Hamburg, entitled “Imperatives: Worlds and Beyond”. It will take place on June 12-13 and also be financed by Kit’s Anneliese Maier Grant. For more information on this workshop click here.

New Members

The Phlox-group is happy to announce the arrival of two new members:

  • Giovanni Merlo just started on a postdoc position partly funded by our Grounding project and partly funded by the Department of Philosophy in Hamburg.
  • Martin Lipman also just started, as this year’s Fine Fellow (funded by Kit Fine’s Anneliese Maier Research Award  in cooperation with the Department of Philosophy in Hamburg)

Also, Arvid Båve just started his second period on a Humboldt postdoc fellowship.

We are glad to welcome the three and we’re looking forward to working with them.

Katharina Felka Wins Stegmüller Award

Earlier this week, the ninth congress of the German Association for Analytical Philosophy took place in Osnabrück, characteristically featuring an abundance of good philosophy and good fun. Most importantly, though, long-time phlox-member Katharina Felka, who — sadly for us — is about to leave Hamburg to take up a position at Zürich University, won the highly prestigious Wolfgang Stegmüller Award for her dissertation “Talking About Numbers”. We are all very happy about this and proud for Katharina!