Dr. Landon Elkind is new Killam postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Philosophy

Welcome, Landon!

20 August 2020

Originally from Texas, Dr. Landon Elkind received his doctorate in philosophy and MS in math from the University of Iowa. His research focuses are in the history of analytic philosophy, philosophy of language, and in philosophy of logic and math, especially on the nature of computation and of proof. His Killam Fellowship project is a digital humanities project at the intersection of these areas.

The project's background is the ongoing scholarly controversy over how to interpret Alfred Whitehead and Bertrand Russell's Principia Mathematica, a milestone 20th-century work in logic. This project stands to shed light on that debate using computer proof-assistants, which are interactive programs that function like human tutors helping students with proofs and checking their work. Such programs can help us quickly and effectively model, and even verify, the extant competing interpretations of Principia. This project will also involve digitizing and mapping the text of Principia, making the alternative readings presentable in a side-by-side comparison.

Such history-focused applications of computer proof-assistants are not limited to logical works like Principia, but in principle could be leveraged in comparing reconstructions of other philosophical texts, and even in constructing new scholarly interpretations. This project will thus prototype using computer proof-assistants for textual reconstruction in the history of philosophy more broadly.

(*The art on the picture is by Dr. Renée Bolinger)