Bernard Linsky FRSC

My Courses this term (Fall 2015): Phil 120A1 

(See Dept website and eClass for those registered.)

Phil 426/526A1

Phil 448/547A1

Research and Teaching Interests

My research has been in areas of Philosophical Logic related to Metaphysics and in the History of Logic, in particular, Bertrand Russell's logic. My PhD thesis, on "Natural Kinds and Natural Kind Terms" developed into an interest in properties, both as the meaning of predicates and as universals in metaphysics. This interest in semantics has led to several papers on logical form, definite descriptions, and how to extend the notion of rigid designation to general terms. Between 1990 and 2006 I wrote a series of papers with Edward Zalta, applying his "Object Theory" to problems about the semantics of necessity and quantified modal logic and the philosophy of mathematics. I also began to study of Bertrand Russell's logic as a theory of properties and propositions, and then, after a first visit to the Bertrand Russell Archives in 2003, various manuscripts by Russell. A series of papers came out of the notes that Russell made on the works of Gottlob Frege in 1902, and a few sheets from the largely missing manuscript of Principia Mathematica from around 1910. I have published edited notes and manuscripts that Russell made for the second edition of PM , from 1925, and a collection of papers on Principia Mathematica based on a conference at McMaster University held in 2010. A collection of papers on Russell's The Problems of Philosophy was published in 2015. I am currently studying notes on Russell’s lectures taken by Henry Sheffer, T.S. Eliot, G.E. Moore and Harry T. Costello.

I have become hooked on archival scholarship because I have had great luck finding materials in archives, though that is mostly because no one had ever looked for them before. In 2004 Ken Blackwell and I stumbled onto three half sheets of Russell’s original manuscript from PM in the Bertrand Russell Archives. In 2012 I located the originals of Henry Sheffer’s notes from Russell’s courses at Cambridge University in 1910. The next year my research assistant, Nika Pona, located a handwritten translation of a 1912 paper on Russell in Polish by Leon Chwistek. In May 2014 I found Harry Costello’s notes in the Archives of Trinity College, Connecticut. The papers included his lecture notes for Russell’s symbolic logic course at Harvard University in 1914, as well as a small notebook in which he recorded Russell’s lectures. I also find things in old books such as the fact that Russell's famous example of "The present King of France" from "On Denoting"(1905) comes from Richard Whately's Elements of Logic (1827). (For the details see my paper on Russell's review of Meinong from 1905.)

Current research continues my study of Russell's logic and metaphysics and his relation to other logicians and philosophers. I am also studying the details of the logic of Principia Mathematica, such as why there is no theorem *2.17. These projects include:

(1) Editing Sheffer's notes on Russell's Lectures on Logic at Cambridge, October-December 1910 and both Harry Costello's and T.S Elliot's notes on Russell's lectures at Harvard University in 1914.

(2) Editing a translation by Rose Rand of Chwistek's 1912 monograph Zasada sprzecznosci w swietle nowsych Bertranda Russella (The Law of Contradiction in the light of recent investigations of Bertrand Russell).

(3) A paper on Russell’s propositional logic: “Peirce’s Law from Principles of Mathematics to Principia Mathematica.”

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