Teaching, teaching, teaching

Teaching for 2004 Semester 1 is now well underway. My classes for this term have been enjoyable in different ways:

  • Non-Classical Logic is a second/third level logic class. I've decided to follow Graham Priest's book An Introduction to Non-Classical Logic rather closely, which means I don't need to make too many further decisions. (It's designed to fit into an Australian academic semester, and to follow an intro logic course just like mine.) The book doesn't take quite the line I'd follow, but it's much better than a merely "good enough" book that I'd use through gritted teeth. My differences with Graham's view of things are two.
    1. Graham structures the course around the search for a good semantics for the conditional of natural language. I think that that question is both easier (for many purposes -- think of mathematical reasoning -- the "material conditional" is just fine and dandy, thankyou very much) and more difficult (there's all sorts of context sensitivity in conditional constructions which a sensible look at would take you very very far away from a second-level undergraduate course) than Graham concedes, so I don't get as much out of the central theme as Graham does.
    2. I think that there is more mileage you can get out of the idea of a normal modal logic than Graham manages to express in his Chapter 3. The ideas of modal logic are just so fruitful and so beautiful, that I can't speed over them in just one chapter. Think temporal logic, deontic logic, dynamic logic, etc., etc ... Here, the formal stuff is just so beautiful that I need to do more than Graham does with this material. This is, as far as I can tell, a matter of taste, and this is one place that my taste differs from Graham's, and it shows. There is more to be said for the role of the teacher as a cultivator of taste, but I must leave that for another time.
    Teaching this class is enjoyable because I know the material like the back of my hand, the students are (mostly) keen to learn, and it's a healthy mix of teaching different kinds of constructions, proving theorems, and doing philosophy.
  • My other major responsibility is my fourth-year honours seminar entitled Logic & Philosophy. This year we're going through some of Robert Brandom's greatest hits, starting with Articulating Reasons, glancing aside to Making it Explicit where necessary (the running joke is that Articulating Reasons should be subtitled "Making Making it Explicit Explicit") and then on to some of the Tales of the Mighty Dead. This is a "big picture" philosophy course, taking in history, philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, normative theory, philosophy of logic, and the kitchen sink. I'm uneasy with anticipation when I wonder what the students (and here I have a smaller group of about twelve) will make of it all.

On top of those teaching responsibilities, I have a small honours reading course in modal logic that I'm taking with Allen Hazen, a new honours student to supervise, a couple of continuing Ph.D. students, and two and a half new Ph.D. students, all working on interesting projects. I have to keep up with inferentialism and Kant's theory of judgement, non-standard probability theory, ontology, Carnap & van Fraassen & stances, and the distinction between pure and depraved semantics. This, in case you were wondering, is why I'm sometimes just a little behind on other 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, and the Director of the Arché Philosophical Research Centre for Logic, Language, Metaphysics and Epistemology 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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