November 6, 2013


Over the next few days I'll be gradually dragging this blog through the recommended upgrade path from Movable Type 3.2 to 5. It might look a bit messy for a while (sorry) but the results should be worth it eventually.

Posted by Gillian Russell at 11:00 PM

July 20, 2013

LaTeX to Word Conversion

A little help with the tiresome task of converting a LaTeX file to Word: this website lets you upload pdf output for free and emails you an MSWord file. I used it for a CV (cut and paste failed hopelessly for this) and the results are much better than I would have expected. I don't know if it could handle symbols, but it did well with heavily formatted text.

Posted by Gillian Russell at 12:57 PM

November 17, 2012

Seven things you should know about sign languages

Link here.

Posted by Gillian Russell at 10:01 AM

November 13, 2012

Logic Teaching

There's a post about teaching logic (and related things) over on the Leiter Blog right now. I think I might try to get hold of a copy of the Panineau book just to get some good teaching ideas.

Posted by Gillian Russell at 9:23 AM

December 1, 2010

We are the world

Today's "things I thought I'd never see:"

Posted by Gillian Russell at 6:52 PM

March 22, 2010

Lecture Stunts

I love hearing about tricks and stunts that people have used as part of their teaching strategy in lectures. I have just been reading Williamson's description of his technique for setting up real life Gettier cases:

To make the point vivid, I have occasionally created Gettier cases for lecture audiences. For example, I have begun a lecture by apologizing for not giving a power-point presentation; I explained that the only time I gave a power-point presentation it was a complete disaster. Since my listeners had no reason to distrust me on a claim so much to my discredit, they acquired through my testimony the justified belief that the only time I gave a power-point presentation it was a complete disaster. They competently deduced that I had never given a successful power-point presentation. Thus they acquired the justified belief that I had never given a successful power-point presentation. That belief was true, but the reason was that I had never given a power-point presentation at all (and still do not intend to.) My assertion that the only time I had given a power-point presentation it was a complete disaster was a bare-faced lie....Someone commented "you can't believe the first thing he says." (192, The Philosophy of Philosophy, 2008)

(I like the story, but I also like the subversive insertion of a hyphen into "powerpoint.")

My friend Nate Williams told me a story about a professor who taught intro ethics at Chapel HIll. Upon the first occasion in the semester a student relativised an ethical claim to a person, as in "Eating meat is wrong for you but it isn't wrong for me" he would have them removed from the lecture hall by a couple of grad students in white coats. When the student (invariably) protested that this was wrong, the professor would reply, "well it might be wrong for you..."

The same friend also gave me an idea for a trick I use when teaching personal identity. After some discussion of the soul, I ask the students whether they think they have souls, and if so, whether they are the kind of thing that can be sold to another person. After getting their views, I hand out contracts beginning "I hereby agree to sell my soul to Gillian Russell for the price of one candy bar..." The contract states that if they have no soul, or if its ownership is not transferable to me, then get to keep the candy bar and the contract is complete. Then I lay out enough candy for the entire class on the front desk and wait ... I have seven so far. All reasonable offers will be considered.

Anyone know of any others?

Posted by Gillian Russell at 4:46 PM

November 21, 2009

my mistress, my checkout girl...

Posted by Gillian Russell at 4:49 PM

November 19, 2009

Scottish Cafe and Restaurant at the National Gallery

I've just returned from a clandestine (i.e. intentionally non-work related) visit to Scotland. As evidence, here are a couple of pictures taken from the 'ferry:

Forth Rail Bridge.jpg

Forth Road Bridge.jpg

One of the nicest surprises of my trip was stumbling across the Scottish Cafe and Restaurant at the National Gallery on Princes Street in Edinburgh.


My parents are Scottish and I was an undergraduate at St Andrews, so I'm used to thinking of Irn -Bru as the national drink, and Bridies and deep fried Mars bars as the stuff of feasts, which is sort of a shame, because i) I'm vegetarian and ii) despite my Scottish roots, I rather like food, and I'm quite sure it's possible to make it out of locally grown Scottish ingredients.

So the existence of this cafe is very, very welcome. One of the most amazing aspects is the cheese board section on the back of the menu. Here's an excerpt:

Cheese Board - Export.jpg

See that? Every entry tells you whether or not the cheese is made with vegetarian rennet. Hurrah! Here's what a small version of the Pentland cheese board looked like:

Chese Board Real.jpg

According to the menu I have Angus MacLay to thank for the world miraculously turning out to be the way I've always wanted it to be, at least in this tiny corner of Edinburgh. Thanks, Angus!

Posted by Gillian Russell at 5:14 AM



New mathematical symbols?


So what is it like to be a bat?


New data on how language influences thought?


Right is right


Logical Pluralism Conference, Tartu, August 27th-31st 2008


blind reviewer voodoo doll


just kill me now


entering exotic characters


Philosophers' Carnival


Coming to Kant's Defence