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Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship

The Faculty is delighted to announce that Timothy Williamson, Wykeham Professor of Logic, has been awarded a Major Research Fellowship by the Leverhulme Trust. The award will be held from 1 October 2009 to 30 September 2012. Leverhulme Major Research Fellowships are awarded to distinguished researchers in the disciplines of the Humanities and Social Sciences to support single research projects of outstanding originality and significance. For more details about the awards see the Leverhulme Trust’s website at: http://www.leverhulme.ac.uk/grants_awards/grants/major_research_fellowships/.

The title of Professor Williamson’s project is ‘Philosophical Applications of Second-Order Modal Logic’. A natural framework for much philosophical reasoning, especially in metaphysics, is second-order modal logic. It is ‘second-order’ because it permits generalizations not only over individuals but over their properties. It is ‘modal’ because it permits reasoning about possibility and necessity. Although its components have been studied separately, their interaction has been remarkably little discussed. It casts surprising light on metaphysical questions about the contingency or otherwise of existence. The project is to develop second-order modal logic as an instrument for philosophers and others, to assess rival interpretations of the formal framework, and to apply it to pertinent philosophical problems.

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