Posts by Collection


Conceptual Engineering or Revisionary Conceptual Analysis?

Published in Dialogue, 2021

Abstract Conceptual engineers have made hay over the differences of their metaphilosophy from those of conceptual analysts. In this article, I argue that the differences are not as great as conceptual engineers have, perhaps rhetorically, made them seem. That is, conceptual analysts asking 'What is X?' questions can do much the same work that conceptual engineers can do with 'What is X for?' questions, at least if conceptual analysts self-understand their activity as a revisionary enterprise. I show this with a study of Russell's metaphilosophy, which was just such a revisionary conception of conceptual analysis.

Recommended citation: Elkind, Landon D. C. (2021). "Conceptual Engineering or Revisionary Conceptual Analysis?: The Case of Russell's Metaphilosophy Based on Principia Mathematica's Logic" Dialogue 60(3), pp. 447-474.

Computer verification for historians of philosophy

Published in Synthese, 2022

Abstract Interactive theorem provers might seem particularly impractical in the history of philosophy. Journal articles in this discipline are generally not formalized. Interactive theorem provers involve a learning curve for which the payoffs might seem minimal. In this article I argue that interactive theorem provers have already demonstrated their potential as a useful tool for historians of philosophy; I do this by highlighting examples of work where this has already been done. Further, I argue that interactive theorem provers can continue to be useful tools for historians of philosophy in the future; this claim is defended through a more conceptual analysis of what historians of philosophy do that identifies argument reconstruction as a core activity of such practitioners. It is then shown that interactive theorem provers can assist in this core practice by a description of what interactive theorem provers are and can do. If this is right, then computer verification for historians of philosophy is in the offing. <\details> <!--[Download paper here](

Recommended citation: Elkind, Landon D.C. "Computer verification for historians of philosophy". *Synthese*, First View, Special Issue: Metaphilosophy of Formal Methods, 1(3).

The Contact Argument: A Little Unduly Simple?

Published in American Philosophical Quarterly, 2022

Abstract The contact argument is widely cited as making a strong case against a gunk-free metaphysics with point-sized simples. It is shown here that the contact argument’s reasoning is faulty even if all its background assumptions and desiderata for contact are accepted. Further, the simples theorist can offer both metric and topological accounts of contact that satisfy all the contact argument’s desid-erata. This indicates that the contact argument’s persuasiveness stems from a tacit reliance on the thesis that objects in contact are inseparable: the simples theorist must allow that separated objects might be in contact. The concluding section critically considers this contact-separability thesis and argues that rejecting it is not so terrible. The upshot of all this is that the contact argument is simply unconvincing.

Recommended citation: Elkind, Landon D. C. (2022). "The Contact Argument: A Little Unduly Simple?" American Philosophical Quarterly 59(3), pp. 247-261.



On Russell’s ‘‘Vagueness’’


Abstract I argue that Bertrand Russell's 1923 ''Vagueness'' has wrongly endured long-standing criticism in the secondary literature on metaphysical vagueness. I divide the most com- mon criticisms of Russell into three 'myths', as I call them. I then indicate why none of these three myths is justifed by the light of a close reading of Russell's 1923 piece. The upshot of dispelling the myths is inviting work on *representationalism*, the view that metaphysical vagueness is a feature of representations.

A theorem of infinity for Principia Mathematica


Abstract I prove a theorem of infnity for *Principia Mathematica*. The proof requires altering the meta-theory of *Principia*. In *Principia* we have a simple type theory with a lowest type (call this 'simple ℕ-type theory'). Our key idea is to allow for infnitely-descending types just as there are infnitely-ascending types; that is, we allow our simple type theory to be not well-founded (call this 'simple ℤ-type theory'). Given the acceptableness of *Principia*'s (well-founded) simple type theory, this adjustment is minor. This adjustment is also implicitly suggested by various remarks of Whitehead and Russell. By so-adjusting *Principia*, a core objection to Logicism--namely, that Logicism cannot recover Peano arithmetic without an axiom of infnity--dissipates.

Any philosophical canon is practically self-undermining


Abstract There has recently been much-needed critical discussion of the current Anglo-American philosophical canons, but not as much consideration of their nature and purposes. I discuss what philosophical canons are and argue that they are social practices, and in particular, social practices of enforcing rules. I then consider what purposes a philosophical canon can have for various stakeholders. Building on Luca Castagnoli’s work on self-refutation in ancient philosophy, I clarify various notions of being practically self-undermining. I then argue that even on an inclusive view of what the purposes of a philosophical canon are, any philosophical canon is self-undermining. There is no plausible account of the purposes of a philosophical canon that is not undermined by having one, whatever its makeup.

The propositional logic of Principia in Coq


Abstract There have been multiple reconstructions of the propositional logic of *Principia* beginning with the artificial intelligence research of Newell, Simon, and Shaw in the 1950s, including the mechanical validity-checker of Hao Wang (see ''IBM Journal of Research and Development'' 1960), and the proof reconstructions of Daniel O'Leary using Polish notations (see *Russell* 1988). To these results I have added a fully computer-checked reconstruction of the propositional logic of "Principia" following the proof sketches indicated in that work. This talk will discuss what computer-checking *Principia* proofs in `Coq` tells us about the proof sketches, and also about the development of propositional logic between *Principia* and Russell's 1906 ''The Theory of Implication.''


Teaching experience 1

Undergraduate course, University 1, Department, 2014

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Teaching experience 2

Workshop, University 1, Department, 2015

This is a description of a teaching experience. You can use markdown like any other post.