Metaphysics, Modality and Mathematics: Themes from the work of Bob Hale

Tuesday 23rd and Wednesday 24th August 2011

Humanities Research Institute, University of Sheffield.

A conference to mark the retirement of Bob Hale.

Bob Hale's work has explored in depth various themes central to the metaphysics and epistemology of mathematics and modality. His long-standing collaboration with Crispin Wright in elaborating neo-Fregeanism - a Platonist version of logicism inspired by Frege - has attracted considerable discussion, focused especially on the status of Hume's Principle as an implicit definition of the number operator, the possibility of developing a neo-Fregean foundation for analysis and set theory, and a range of problems--most notoriously, the Bad Company problem and the Julius Caesar problem--affecting the kind of abstraction principles central to the neo-Fregean approach. More recently, Hale has been working on the epistemology and metaphysics of modality, and in particular defending the view that that we should accept facts about necessity and possibility as fundamental and irreducible, that questions about what kinds of things there are have an irreducibly modal dimension, and that a proper understanding of the relations between ontology and modality supports an account of second-order logic, possible world semantics and much of mathematics which renders their ostensibly very considerable existential commitments much less philosophically problematic than they are commonly taken to be. The conference will address these various themes, subjecting Hale's views to critical assessment, exploring alternative approaches and applying his ideas in novel ways.

Hale puzzled

Speakers and Programme

There will be papers from:

John Divers, Kit Fine, Bob Hale, Sonia Roca Royes, Ian Rumfitt, Stewart Shapiro and Crispin Wright

The programme can be downloaded from the righthand side of this page.

Booking and Arrangements

The conference fee is £80. This includes the conference dinner (Tuesday 23rd), lunch (Wednesday 24th), tea and coffee. The reduced fee for postgraduate students is £55 (or £30 without the conference dinner). Booking closes on August 8th. Book here.

Please make your own arrangements for accommodation. Here are some suggestions:

The Rutland Hotel

The Leopold Hotel

Premier Inn

Ibis Hotel


The conference has been generously supported by a Mind Association Major Conference Grant and a conference grant from the Analysis Trust.