[FOM] late 19th/early 20th C women in foundations

Richard Heck richard_heck at brown.edu
Fri Mar 10 15:17:09 EST 2017

On 03/08/2017 04:45 PM, Sara L. Uckelman wrote:
> It's International Women's Day and I'm preparing for tomorrow's seminar
> on formalism; these two things together led me to a question which if
> anyone can answer, it's the collective knowledge of FOM:
> In the late 19th/early 20th C foundational tradition of Cantor-Dedekind-
> Frege-Russell-Hilbert, etc., were there any female contributors?  I
> know that post-Godel there are certainly people writing on foundations/
> philosophy of math, but I'm interested in people who were actually
> working at the time foundational questions were being formulated as
> well as being answered.

Looks like your message took a while to be posted....

I'm not sure if you'd count Emily Elizabeth Constance Jones as working on
'foundations', but she did write a reply to "On Denoting" that defended
from Russell's criticisms, and Russell responds to her in "Knowledge by
Acquaintance and Knowledge by Description". There is an article about her
and her work at the Stanford Encyclopedia:

At the end of the articule, several other women from this era are mentioned,
including Christine Ladd-Franklin, who was a student of Peirce's, and
who has
an interesting hitsory. See was denied a PhD by Johns Hopkins on account of
her being a woman, but was later awarded one. There is a nice paper in
the BSL
by Susan Russinoff about her contributions to logic. See
I recall George Boolos talking to me about Ladd-Franklin's work when I was
a student. Susie, as it happens, was also a student of his, and she
thanks him
for recommending Ladd-Franklin to her in the acknowledgments.

Another person, from slightly later, was Susanne Langer, who became best
known for her work in aesthetics. But she wrote her dissertation with
and did publish papers on type theory in the 1920s.

Richard Heck

Richard G Heck Jr
Professor of Philosophy
Brown University

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