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Jan von Plato

23.6.1951, Helsinki

M.Sc. 1975 (mathematics), University of Helsinki
PhD 1980 (theoretical philosophy), University of Helsinki

Professor of Philosophy (Swedish Chair) 2000–, University of Helsinki

Publications, research projects, and other scientific activity

Research themes:
Logic, epistemology, history of science

Photo: Jan von Plato
Written by Jan von Plato
Translated by Stella von Plato

What use research in logic?

If ones who asks this question have a phone in their pocket or a tablet in their hands, I say: You would not have that, and we would not have this information society if Kurt Gödel & co. hadn’t in the 20’s and 30’s thought profoundly about the questions of the foundations of logic and arithmetic. The concepts and theories of formal languages and calculation arose from these ideas, and then in turn programming languages and algorithmic computation.

The second world war forced Alan Turing and Johann von Neumann to create programmable computers, one for cracking the secret code of the German submarines, the other for the numerical calculation of the explosion of an atomic bomb. Here is some “societal impact” of basic research, but with the criteria of science policy today, Gödel & co. wouldn’t have gotten a schilling for their esoteric research!

The student of 1970 after so many years. Here he looks back in bewonderment: all this and more!
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