Hello! I’m Greg Restall, and this is my personal website. ¶ I am a Professor of Philosophy at the University of St Andrews, and I like thinking about – and helping other people think about – logic and philosophy and the many different ways they can inform each other. I am known for work on substructural logics, logical pluralism, and, more recently, connections between proof theory and philosophy. ¶ I use this site to post news items and the occasional thought, and to serve as a repository of my writing, presentations and teaching.
A few months ago, Anna Day, Eloise Hickey, Mark Rothery, and James Cafferky from the Undergraduate Philosophy Journal of Australasia gave me an opportunity to ramble on about my early days as a mathematics and philosophy student in the 1980s and 1990s, my current research interests, and what I’m thinking about now. They asked thoughtful questions and managed to edit the interview into something coherent.
Check it out, if only for the photos of me in my teens and twenties, then stay for the philosophy.
In my PY1012 Reasoning lecture this evening, I used a slide with a photo of Sally Haslanger and a short section from her book Resisting Reality to give an example of an argument to a universal generalisation. (I’ve been teaching reasoning using examples from throughout the philosophical canon.)
After class a young student came up to me, all excited, asking: do you know Professor Haslanger!? (I had described her as a colleague.) I explained that yes, we’d met and I’d known her for some time. She reacted as if I had been in the presence of a rock star, and that she was now a little bit closer to true greatness as a result. When I said I loved Sally’s work, and then added that Kate Manne had been a student of mine at the University of Melbourne before she went to MIT to study with Sally, the student was absolutely beside herself.
It’s a delight to exploit my own personal contacts with colleagues and friends, to help a student feel a little closer to what she truly treasures in the sometimes humdrum matter of teaching intro reasoning.
I grew up in Australia: my university training and my initial academic positions took place in the explicitly secular institution of the Australian university. So, it’s an uncanny experience to arrive in St Andrews to become a part of a university in a town marked by martyrdom, in which the Chaplaincy plays a central and visible role. University functions, including graduations, are opened with prayers in Latin. There are regular services in Chapel, including graduation services, and many involve an procession of academics, in robes. The separation of “church” and “state” is nowhere near as sharp here in St Andrews as it was in Australia. The university is explicitly pluralist, and the chaplains work very hard to make space for students of all faiths and none. And at the same time, this place owns its Christian heritage.
So, it was to my surprise – and my trepidation – that I was invited to preach the sermon at the Sunday chapel service at the start of this new semester. I seem to have survived the experience of doing something in my work context that is far outside the everyday responsibility of my academic role as a Professor of Philosophy.
According to the AMS’s handy Mathematics Collaboration Distance calculator, my Erdős number is down to three, given the following path:
This makes my Erdős number equal to my Trotsky number, but that is another story.
As my colleague and PY1012 Reasoning co-lecturer, Franz Berto knows, it’s never too early to introduce your students to wombats, or to the difference between a conditional and an inference.
Yes, next semester’s classes are just about to start, and I’m in the depths of preparation.
Today MIT Press releases our book, Logical Methods into the big wide world. It was an absolute delight to work on this long-term project with my co-author and friend, Shawn Standefer.
2022 has been another big year, not that you’d know it from looking around the news section of this website. Settling in to St Andrews has taken up a lot of my energy (in a good way), and I’ve been having too much fun writing things and giving talks to spend time updating this website.
With the break between Christmas and New Year, I finally had time to clean up a bit of the mess around here, and update things.
I’m Greg Restall, and this is my personal website. ¶ I am the Shelby Cullom Davis Professor of Philosophy at the University of St Andrews. ¶ I like thinking about – and helping other people think about – logic and philosophy and the many different ways they can inform each other.
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