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HSE University Brings Major Conference in Philosophical Logic to Russia for the First Time

On October 2-4, HSE University hosted the international conference Trends in Logic 19. Current Issues in Philosophical Logic for the first time in Russia. The conference, which attracted a number of prominent Russian and international scholars, was organized jointly by the journal Studia Logica and the HSE International Laboratory for Logic, Linguistics and Formal Philosophy.

The Trends in Logic conferences, which serve as a platform for interdisciplinary cooperation in the fields of formal philosophy, logic and mathematics, have been held since 2003 with the editorial board of Studia Logica serving as the main organizer.

‘Trends in Logic conferences have been held in Poland, Belgium, Argentina, Germany, the United States, the Netherlands, Brazil, and Italy. This year, the conference was held in Russia for the first time and was devoted to current trends and methods of philosophical logic. Among the methods that stand out are modal logic and relevance logic, methods of dynamic epistemic logic, type theory, and descriptive logic,’ said Elena Dragalina-Chernaya, Head of International Laboratory for Logic, Linguistics and Formal Philosophy and Professor of Faculty of Humanities.

‘The International Laboratory for Logic, Linguistics and Formal Philosophy brings together philosophers, mathematicians and linguists using formal methods in the development of integrative approaches to the fundamental problems of their own and related disciplines,’ she said. ‘This year, the laboratory has already hosted the Formal Philosophy 2019 international conference, which was dedicated to formal approaches in ontology and epistemology, philosophy of logic and mathematics, non-classical logics, and the history of logic.’

A special session on Russian contributions

‘Russian scholars are pioneers in many of these areas,’ Professor Dragalina-Chernaya noted. ‘Holding a conference in Russia helps bring more awareness to the global logic community about the heritage and current developments of Russian philosophers and mathematicians in the field of non-classical logic.’

One conference session was devoted to research on the works of Ivan Orlov (1886-1936?), who was the author of the first axiomatization of relevance logic (The Logic of Compatibility of Propositions, 1928) and the first attempt to construct the calculus of intuitionistic logic using a modal operator. He was a philosopher of science (The Logic of the Natural Sciences, 1925) who addressed problems of the philosophical foundations of mathematics and the development of a logic of natural science.

During the session, participants discussed the ‘Russian plan’ for relevance logic in the works by E.K. Voishvillo and E.A. Sidorenko, fathers of the Moscow philosophical school of relevance logic whose ideas are not particularly well known outside Russia.

A wealth and diversity of international speakers

Scholars invited to speak at the conference included Johan van Bentham, Professor of Logic at the University of Amsterdam and Professor of Philosophy at Stanford University; Graham Priest, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the City University of New York Graduate Center; and Lev Beklemishev, Professor in the Faculty of Mathematics and Joint Department with the Steklov Institute of Mathematics (RAS) at HSE.

‘I was talking about a paper by Ivan Orlov, a logician working in Moscow in the 1920s,’ noted Professor Priest as he shared his thoughts on the conference. ‘He was, in fact, the first person to invent a branch of logic now known as 'relevant logic', though his paper fell into oblivion at the time.’ He tied Orlov’s work to important issues for young people who are studying philosophical logic today: ‘Knowing, understanding, having new ideas, investigating new possibilities, and proving new results.’

In discussing the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for scholars in the field, Professor Priests notes, ‘The last 40 years have seen an explosion in the area of non-classical logics, and the area continues to develop apace. There is much to be learned about such logics, their properties and applications.’ 

Professor Johan van Benthem also shared his thoughts on the conference and research of logic, stressing the importance and meaning of the Trends in Logic conferences that began in 2003. 

Trends in Logic is a place where you can see 'logic in the making'. It is a forum for new research lines in pure and applied logic,’ he said. ‘It is motivated by a wide range of applications, from philosophy and mathematics to computer science, artificial intelligence, and recently also the social and behavioural sciences. A further striking feature of Trends in Logic is the balance in its agenda between themes initiated in the United States, Europe (in the wide cultural sense), and increasingly Asia.’

After joking that young people studying philosophical logic today may not be overly concerned with the opinion of a 70-year-old professor, he nevertheless offered some advice on the question of what’s important: ‘First, know your mathematics well – in any case, much more than the minimum required for your current research. Second, develop a sense for well-motivated issues that you yourself are interested in rather than copying the winds of current fashion, which often blow in just one geographical direction. Third, open your eyes as a citizen of the world today and see how philosophical logic can play a broader role beyond the safe reservations of academia.’

The conference also saw a number of other participants, including Elia Zardini, Vladimir Vasyukov, Evgeny Zolin, Alexandra Pavlova, Andrei Rodin, Denis Fedyanin, and Valentin Shekhtman (all HSE staff members); Yevgeny Borisov, an HSE intern; and Yaroslav Mikhailov, a student at HSE. Philosophers and mathematicians from England, France, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Israel, Poland, Czechia, Serbia, and across Russia (Moscow, St. Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Ulyanovsk, and Tatarstan) also spoke at the conference.

In 2020, the International Laboratory for Logic, Linguistics and Formal Philosophy plans to hold the next conference, Formal Philosophy 2020, as well as the 3rd HSE Semantics & Pragmatics Workshop, which is aimed at integrating logical, philosophical and linguistic approaches to semantics and pragmatics of natural language.