Philosophy of Mathematics Seminar


Philosophy of Mathematics seminar


Frederique Janssen-Lauret, Manchester

Founding mothers: Women’s contributions to logic in the early analytic period  


Analytic philosophy is thought to have been constructed by a wholly male pantheon of ‘founding fathers’ (Russell, Moore, Wittgenstein) and ‘grandfathers’ (Frege). It is assumed that there were no founding mothers or grandmothers, that female analytic philosophers did not arrive on the scene until the 1950s, with Anscombe, Foot, and Murdoch. Women, the traditional histories assume, were just not writing original philosophy in the late 1890s to 1930s when analytic philosophy emerged, or if they were, they wrote on normative philosophy, ethics, politics, or the history of philosophy, not the hard-nosed logic which drove early analytic philosophy. My paper challenges this story, which is not borne out by the historical record. My paper establishes that women − including Christine Ladd-Franklin, Constance Jones, Victoria Welby, Constance Naden, Augusta Klein, Dorothy Wrinch, Susan Stebbing, Susanne Langer, Alice Ambrose, Margaret Macdonald, Margaret Masterman, Marjorie Lee Browne, Janina Hosiasson, and Ruth Barcan − made significant contributions to logic from the beginning of the analytic movement, publishing on mathematical and philosophical logic, philosophy of logic in journals like Mind and Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society.