7: Rachel Boddy



Program and Year of Study

PhD, 3rd year

Previous degrees and colleges

BA Philosophy, Leiden University (The Netherlands)

MSc Logic, University of Amsterdam (The Netherlands)

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Haarlem, The Netherlands.

Where do you live now?


What's your favorite spot in Davis?

My favorite spots in Davis are my backyard and Olive Tree Lane (in west Davis). I also especially like the Arboretum and The Dock Store. 

How do you relax?

Running, enjoying food/drinks, and cooking are probably my favorite ways to relax. But I also like to read, do yoga, or take a class at the Craft Center at UCD.

What was the last book you read for pleasure?

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. 

What was the last film you saw at the theater?

Nocturnal Animals. I recommend it! 

Research interests

In general, my work focuses on questions at the intersection of symbolic logic, philosophy of mathematics/logic, and the history of analytic philosophy.

Dissertation title or topic

The topic of my dissertation is (very roughly) the role of definitions in proof, and the role of definitions in the philosophy of logic/mathematics. I am currently working out the details. 

Please share a surprising or noteworthy fact or finding from your research

It is possible to coherently claim that within a single proof a definition can be both eliminable and necessary.  

Which professor or class inspired you to pursue graduate studies?

The professor that inspired me to pursue graduate studies was my undergraduate advisor Bruno Verbeek at Leiden University. I attended several of his courses in moral and political philosophy. His teaching and mentoring had a profound influence on my interest in pursuing an academic career in philosophy. 

Which scholarly text do you wish you had written? Why?

Well, since I admire Gottlob Frege’s book The Foundations of Arithmetic, perhaps I should wish that I had written that book (all else being equal). 

Which other researchers at UC Davis are doing work that particularly interests you?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, I find the work of my dissertation advisor Robert May especially interesting (particularly his work on Frege’s logicism and his work on generalized quantifiers)! I also find the work of Giacomo Bonanno (in the Department of Economics) very interesting. 

What’s the best thing about being a grad student?

For me the best thing certainly includes the freedom to pursue my research interests and to do so together with others. I really like my work environment, including my peers, my professors and the administrative staff at my department. I also really like having a flexible schedule. 

What’s the worst?


If you weren’t a grad student, what would you be doing?

Not sure. I might have opted for the consulting world. I also could have been a lawyer by now.  

Finally, please ask yourself a question

To what extent do you think your work can and should have a broader societal impact? 

Especially given the current political climate in the US, I think it is very important to help students develop (and value) their critical skills, e.g. their skills in critically evaluating arguments, based on the plausibility of the assumptions and the structure of an argument, rather than on some prior commitment to the truth of their conclusion. This is one way in which I think work in philosophy can (and should) make an important contribution (though by no means the only way).


—March 2017


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