CFP: Synthese Topical Collection: Metaphilosophy of Formal Methods

Submission deadline: Today

Topic areas


Guest Editor: Samuel C. Fletcher (University of Minnesota, Twin Cities)

Topical Collection Description: With which methods must a competent contemporary philosopher be familiar? Argumentation, analysis, and creative synthesis have always been in the philosopher's toolkit, but there is a rising confluence with formal methods more traditionally associated with the sciences. While "logic" has been essentially synonymous with "formal methods" in philosophy for many decades, increasingly philosophers are using mathematics not traditionally associated with logic, such as probability and decision theory, statistics, and even experimental design and computer simulation. The present topical collection investigates the changing status and role of mathematics and other formal methods in philosophical methodology: Why use them? What is their function? What is their prevalence, provenance, and history? In what contexts are they (in)effective or (un)successful and why? How do these methods connect philosophy with other disciplines?

Appropriate topics for submission include, among others, any bearing on the following descriptive, historical, and normative questions:

  • Which formal and mathematical methods are becoming central in philosophical research? Do the types of methods vary by subdiscipline?
  • How did formal and mathematical methods enter into and become accepted within analytic and related philosophical research in the twentieth century? How has this development compared with their use and acceptance in other philosophical traditions?
  • Are there some subdisciplines of philosophy in which mathematical methods are not yet or will not be apt, and why? What, if anything, do they have in common?
  • What implications does the increasing use of mathematical methods in at least some subdisciplines of philosophy have for philosophical naturalism and the connections between philosophy and the sciences?
  • How does the use of distinctly mathematical methods relate to the role of distinctly formal logical methods that have heretofore been so prominent in analytic philosophy in the twentieth century?

For further information, please contact the guest editor, Samuel C. Fletcher (University of Minnesota, Twin Cities):

The deadline for submissions is 19 March, 2021.

Papers in a Topical Collection are not assigned to a special issue of the journal but published in the first available issue of Synthese. The papers are then collected and prominently displayed together on Synthese’s website. Papers in a Topical Collection undergo the same review process as any other submission to Synthese.  Submissions can be made at To be considered for inclusion in the Topical Collection, please select "T.C. Metaphilosophy of Formal Methods" from the drop-down list when asked to "Select Article Type".

Supporting material

Add supporting material (slides, programs, etc.)