We are a Working Group devoted to the discussion of historical and philosophical issues in symbolic logic, mathematics, and science. We meet on occasional Wednesday evenings for a talk and a lively discussion. The group is funded by the Doreen B. Townsend Center for the Humanities and the Department of Philosophy.

All members of the academic community are welcome to attend. We have regular participants in many different fields, including philosophy, mathematics, history of science, and psychology.

The group organizers are Lara Buchak (Philosophy), Wesley Holliday (Philosophy), John MacFarlane (Philosophy), Paolo Mancosu (Philosophy), and Seth Yalcin (Philosophy).

Our next event

March 22, 2017, 6-7:30 PM in 470 Stephens Hall

Jeremy Gray (Mathematics and Statistics, The Open University and The Mathematics Institute, University of Warwick, U.K.)

Theory choice: Felix Klein and Galois theory

Joint Meeting with the Office for History of Science and Technology, also advertised here.

In the 19th century a handful of short difficult papers about solution methods for polynomial equations grew into a vigorous branch of algebra (Galois theory) and even into a rallying cry for modern structural mathematics. The influential German mathematician Felix Klein’s well-known but little-read book The Icosahedron of 1884 played a significant, and often neglected, role in the controversies that attended the creation of these ideas. The arguments he and his opponents used range over important questions about the organisation of mathematical knowledge and the direction of research.