Petrus Hispanus Lectures 2012 – Timothy Williamson
5 and 6 June 2012
Anfiteatro 4, Faculty of Letters, University of Lisbon
Wykeham Professor of Logic, University of Oxford
Logic, Science and Metaphysics
Timothy Williamson has been the Wykeham Professor of Logic at Oxford since 2000. His main research interests are in philosophical logic, epistemology, metaphysics and philosophy of language. He is the author of Identity and Discrimination (Blackwell 1990), Vagueness (Routledge 1994), Knowledge and its Limits (Oxford 2000), The Philosophy of Philosophy (Blackwell 2007) and over 120 articles. Williamson on Knowledge, edited by Patrick Greenough and Duncan Pritchard (Oxford 2009) contains fifteen critical essays on his work and his replies.
Lecture 1: Logics as Scientific Theories
The similarities between logic and other branches of science are usually underestimated. Like other scientific theories, logics can be compared and assessed abductively in terms of their simplicity, strength, elegance, and consistency with what is already known. Tarski’s definition of logical truth provides a suitable standard of correctness for them to aim at. Such an account can avoid the objectionable features of Quine’s holism.
Lecture 2: Modal Logic as Metaphysics
The second lecture is a case study of the methodology described in the first, applied to modal logic with a metaphysical interpretation of the modal operators. Some consequences will be drawn out for possible worlds model theory and the question of whether there could have been things that do not actually exist. The relevance of higher-order modal logic for these issues will also be explained.