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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Emphasis in HTML and CSS

This is really a very simple matter, but perhaps one that will be helpful to other people. In working on reading notes for one of my classes, I have wanted to insert questions for the students to think about. The questions are indented and in italics, so that they stand out:
P.question {
 margin-left: 1em;
 margin-right: 1em;
 font-style: italic;
The downside to this is that emphasis doesn't work right. So if I write:
<p class="question">In Russell's reply (which you do not <em>have</em> to read)...</p>
the emphasis has no effect. A kludge would be to use bold, instead, which is what I want there, but then what if I copy it elsewhere? Then I have to change it again. A better solution is to use CSS to style it appropriately:
P.question em {
 font-weight: bold;
I am guessing that one could use similar techniques to make emphasis inside emphasis work properly.

Wonderful Piece on Queer Theology

If we don’t abundantly love each other, we can’t have an abundant relationship with God. I must embrace an interpretation of my faith that requires unconditional love for queer people because any less would be to deny my own humanity and that of my community.
Preach it, sister!

More at Autostraddle.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Trans Woman Nominated as Pennsylvania's Next Physician General

Her name is Rachel Levine. Harvard undergrad, did her MD at Tulane.

Seriously: Even five years ago, could you have imagined such a thing? Of course, as noted in the story, it is still legal in Pennsylvania to fire someone for being trans, though there is a bill pending to correct that injustice.

Coverage from and the Washington Blade.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

PDF of "From a Logical Point of View"

More and more cool stuff appears in electronic form, this time a PDF of Quine's From a Logical Point of View, free on

While we're at it, how about Russell's Inquiry Into Meaning and Truth?

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Squeezing Argument in "Is Frege's Definition of the Ancestral Correct?"

I mentioned in an earlier post my paper "Is Frege's Definition of the Ancestral Correct?" It has now been refereed at Philosophia Mathematica and officially accepted for publication. One of the two reports was unusually helpful and led to some significant improvements in the final version, which is now available online.

The most helpful comment caught a nasty thinko in one of the proofs. But the most interesting observation this referee made was that perhaps the central argument of the paper is a so-called "squeezing argument". (See Robbie Williams's discussion of such arguments here, and Peter Smith's here, a version of which was eventually published in Analysis.)

The rough structure of such arguments is as follows. Suppose there is some intuitive notion I and you want to show that some rigorous notion R is co-extensive with I. Then one way to do so is as follows. Suppose that it is uncontroversial that R gives a necessary condition for I. And suppose further that we can find a different rigorous notion Q that uncontroversially gives a sufficient condition for I. So, to put it set-theoretically, we have:
Then if we can show rigorously that R is sufficient for Q, i.e., that R ⊆ Q, then it will follow that both Q and R are co-extensive with I. As it's put, I has been "squeezed" between  Q and R.

The way this works in the paper is that I is the intutive notion of the ancestral; R is Frege's definition; and Q is an alternative definition that I give and claim, in fact, is intensionally correct. In response to an objection to the intensional correctness of that definition, however, I fall back on this squeezing argument.

This makes at least three instances of this sort of argument: The original, in Kreisel, which is meant to show that the model-theoretic account of validity is extensionally correct; Smith's, which is supposed to show that Turing's analysis of computability is extensionally correct; and now this one. Are there others? I'm guessing maybe there are?