USI Lugano Philosophy Colloquia 2024


    The Lugano Philosophy Colloquia 2024 is held on campus for philosophy students and on Zoom for everyone. To participate in these events, please write to
    The recording will then be posted on the ISFI youtube channel.




    Wednesday, February 21 at 5.30pm (CET), Room 0.5 FTL Building (USI west campus)

    Claudio Calosi (UNIGE)

    Alessandro Cecconi (UNIGE) & Damiano Costa (USI)

    "A chair for Minkowski"

    Chaired by Cristian Mariani

    Abstract: Is it possible to find ordinary objects, in a relativistic world? And if yes, to what extent and at what cost? In this paper, we discuss the problem of relativistic change and how it threatens our received view of ordinary objects. More precisely, we will show how the problem arises, given two metaphysics of persistence, i.e., 4- and 3-dimensionalism, thus generalizing a formulation due to Sattig (2015). Finally, we will assess different strategies and evaluate their costs.


    Friday, March 08 at 5.30pm (CET), Room Multiuso FTL Building (USI west campus)

    Thomas Sattig (University of Tübingen)

    "Persistence and Perception"

    Chaired by Marta Pedroni

    Abstract: We visually perceive objects as being temporally extended in a way that is very different from how we visually perceive objects as being spatially extended. What does the non-spacelike temporal extension of visual objects consist in? Since philosophers and psychologists of perception have not been gripped by this foundational question, it is reasonable to seek guidance from the metaphysics of persistence. Metaphysicians have proposed several alternative conceptions of non-spacelike temporal extension. These are known as conceptions of endurance. The mereological conception, the locational conception, and the individuational conception have been discussed most widely. In this talk, it will be argued that none of these conceptions of non-spacelike temporal extension or endurance captures how visual objects persist, and hence that the nature of the persistence of visual objects is currently a mystery.


    Friday, March 22 at 5.30pm (CET), Room Multiuso FTL Building (USI west campus)

    Léon Probst (USI)

    "What is a good Gödel numbering?"

    Chaired by Marta Pedroni

    Abstract: In metamathematics, logicians prove theorems about numbers and then interpret them as being about mathematical theories. These (philosophical) interpretations rely on many (unmathematical) choices, among them the choice of Gödel numberings—assignments of numbers to syntactic entities such as formulae. This talk investigates such a choice and discusses the question 'What is a good Gödel numbering?'.


    Friday, April 19 at 5.30pm (CEST), Room Multiuso FTL Building (USI west campus)

    Dan Deasy (University College Dublin)

    "The Necessity of Time"

    Chaired by Damiano Costa

    Abstract: Contemporary philosophers of time tend to reject McTaggart’s (1908, 1927) conclusion that ‘time is unreal’. However, it seems plausible to many philosophers that even if there is time, there could have been no time, or in other words, that reality could have been timeless. In this paper, I describe an argument for the surprising conclusion that there must be time, or in other words, that reality could not have been timeless. I conclude that whilst the argument can be resisted, there is also a view of what instants of time are on which the conclusion of the argument might seem plausible. 


    Friday, May 03 at 5.30pm (CEST), Room Multiuso FTL Building (USI west campus)

    Alastair Wilson (University of Leeds)

    "Testing Grounds"

    Chaired by Cristian Mariani

    Abstract: This paper is about grounding explanations in science (especially in physics), and how they are justified. The idea that science is an important guide to what grounds what has been growing in popularity in recent years (e.g. Schaffer 2017; Robertson and Wilson 2023; Giannotti and Kortabarria forthcoming). The thesis of the present paper is that successful theory-reductions and theory-unifications are our primary evidence base when it comes to identifying grounding relations in science. The argument applies the recent proposal of Robertson and Wilson (2023) concerning the transformability of ‘horizontal’ reductions into ‘vertical’ reductions to argue that, in general, major theoretical transitions in science are associated with the production of new evidence concerning the relevant grounding relations.


    Friday, May 17 at 5.30pm (CEST), Room Multiuso FTL Building (USI west campus)

    Francesca Poggiolesi (University Paris 1)

    "Explaining with reasons: from Aristotle to Explainable AI"

    Abstract: Explanations, and in particular explanations which provide the reasons why their conclusion is true, are a central object in a range of fields. On the other hand, there is a long and illustrious philosophical tradition, which starts from Aristotle, and passes through scholars as Leibniz, Bolzano and Frege, that give pride to this type of explanations, and is rich with brilliant and profound intuitions. Recently, Poggiolesi (2024) has formalized ideas coming from this tradition using the logical tools proper to proof theory. On the one hand, recent work has focused on Boolean circuits that compile some common machine learning classifiers and have the same input-output behavior. In this framework, Darwiche and Hirth (2023) have proposed a theory for unveiling the reasons behind the decisions made by Boolean classifiers, and they have studied their theoretical implications. In this talk we will show the deep links behind these two trends: in particular, we will show that the proof-theoretic tools introduced by Poggiolesi can be used to compute the complete reasons behind the decisions made by Boolean classifiers and we will illustrate them using examples. This is a joint work with B. Hill (GREGHEC, Paris). 


    Friday, May 31 at 5.30pm (CEST), Room Multiuso FTL Building (USI west campus)

    L. A. Paul (Yale University)

    "The computational self: location in space, time, and possibility"

    Chaired by Alain Pe-Curto (USI)

    Abstract: To think for yourself, you need to be able to solve new and unexpected problems. This requires you to identify the space of possible environments you could be in, locate yourself in the relevant one, and frame the new problem as it exists relative to your location in this new environment. Combining thought experiments with a series of self-orientation games, I will discuss collaborative work that explores the structure of how we perform this computational task. In particular, we propose that the way humans exploit their ability to center on themselves as physical agents in the real world mimics the way we solve what we call "the avatar problem" in a First-person game. In real life, human agents perform the very same computational task, triangulating their perceptual and proprioceptive inputs with different third person representations of themselves to represent themselves as an embodied agent in the world. Understanding this computational feat is relevant for AI researchers trying to build an artificial agent that can truly think for itself and to philosophers interested in centered worlds epistemology.


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    Cristian Mariani, Marta Pedroni, Léon Probst

    Events of the Institute of Philosophy (ISFI)
    with the SNSF funded projects:
    Quantum Indeterminacy, Temporal Existence, and Value Exploration.