Lugano Philosophy Colloquia. Fall 2023


Master in Philosophy

8 September 2023

The Lugano Philosophy Colloquia are back this fall 2023!

This series of events are held on campus for philosophy students and on Zoom for everyone. We may also stream some of them on the USI Master in Philosophy Facebook page. To participate in these events, please write to [email protected] 

Provisional schedule (the abstract of the talk will be added in due time):

(1) On Friday, September 22 at 5.30pm (CET), Room Multiuso, Theology Building (USI west campus)
Florian Fischer (University of Siegen)
Chaired by Damiano Costa (USI)

Abstract: Our understanding of time encompasses two related but clearly separated aspects which have, famously, been dubbed A- and B-time. A-time focuses on the difference between past, present and future and can thus be characterized as temporal direction; B-time is concerned with temporal order, manifested by the earlier/later relation. The contemporary debate about A- and B-time is best understood as a question of metaphysical fundamentality. While one sides tries to reduce B-notions to A-notions, the other tries to eliminate A-notions in favor of B-notions.

My project on the metaphysics of time, entitled “dynamicity”, goes one step further. Dynamicity is the ultimate basis for both A- and B-time, and must therefor be characterized presupposing neither A- nor B-notions. This means, that any kind of multiplicity is ruled out, as this would constitute a form of (temporal) order; and any kind of teleology is ruled out, as this would constitute a form of direction.

The ultimate goal of the project is to reduce A-time to dynamicity and then reduce B-time to A-time. In my talk, I will focus on the first step, as there is already a debate about the second. I will give an account of dynamicity and outline how to develop A-time from dynamicity. It turns out that the pre-temporal concept of dynamicity is so abstract, that it can be utilized in additional contexts. So to better understand these concepts, I will end the talk with sketching the dynamicity account of modality.


(2) On Wednesday, October 4 at 5.30pm (CET), Room 1.2, Theology Building (USI west campus)
Franz Berto (University of St Andrews)
Imaging and Imagining 
Chaired by Paolo Natati (USI)

Abstract: I investigate the workings and epistemic credentials of counterfactual imagination: the activity of supposing that P in order to investigate what would be the case if P was the case. The mainstream way of drawing the distinction between imagination in the indicative and in the subjunctive or counterfactual mood has it that one can only suppose that P in the former way when one gives nonzero chance to P. I argue that that's wrong. Instead, both kinds of suppositional thinking work by simulated belief revision; but while the former is governed by Bayesian conditionalization, the latter is governed by Lewisian imaging. So understood, counterfactual imagination can be rationally justified by considerations concerning belief accuracy: a specific kind of imaging, namely Laplacian generalized imaging, minimizes expected inaccuracy as measured by the Brier score. So if one endorses the claims that (expected) accuracy is the fundamental virtue of epistemic attitudes, and that accuracy is adequately measured by the Brier score, imagining via imaging is virtuous indeed!


(3) On Friday, October 20 at 5.30pm (CET), Room A.34, Red Building (USI west campus)
Gonzalo Rodriguez-Pereyra (University of Oxford)
Bolzano on the Identity of Indiscernibles
Chaired by Claudio Calosi (UNIGE)

Abstract: I shall discuss an argument by Bolzano for the Identity of Indiscernibles. I will explain and reconstruct the argument, discuss the relationship of the argument with Leibniz's arguments and positions, and argue that the argument is invalid.


(4) On Friday, November 10 at 4.30pm (CET), Room Multiuso, Theology Building (USI west campus)
Olivier Massin (University of Neuchatel)
What is Optimism?
Chaired by Emma Tieffenbach (USI)

Abstract: To be optimistic, it is standardly assumed, is to have positive expectations. I here argue that this definition is correct but captures only one variety of optimism – here called factual optimism. It leaves out two other important varieties of optimism. The first – focal optimism – corresponds to the idea of seeing the glass half full. The second – axiological optimism – consists in the conviction that good is stronger than bad. Those three varieties of optimism are irreducible to each other and do not belong to a common kind, but exhibit essential connections I shall try to bring out.


(5) On Friday, November 17 at 5.30pm (CET), Room Multiuso, Theology Building (USI west campus)
Marta Pedroni (UNIGE, USI)
The singular case of spacetime singularities in quantum gravity
Chaired by Léon Probst (USI)

Abstract: I analyse the status of spacetime singularities in light of singularity resolution in quantum gravity (QG). The avoidance of singularities in QG appears to make a strong case for the view that spacetime singularities are nothing more than mathematical pathologies of general relativity. However, this conclusion may be too hasty. Spacetime singularities are more accurately understood as global properties of spacetime rather than things. Talks about singularities are replaced by talks about singular spacetimes in rigorous definitions. Therefore, if spacetime emerges in QG -- as it is often claimed -- then so may its singular structure. Although this proposal is intriguing, I argue that the attempt to (re)instate singularities in QG through spacetime emergence fails.


(6) On Friday, December 1 at 5.30pm (CET), Room Multiuso, Theology Building (USI west campus)
Balthasar Grabmayr (University of Tübingen)
On the Limits of Mathematics and Their Philosophical Consequences
Chaired by Léon Probst (USI)

Abstract: There is a well-known gap between metamathematical theorems and their philosophical interpretations. Take Tarski's Theorem. According to its prevalent interpretation, the collection of all arithmetical truths is not arithmetically definable. However, the underlying metamathematical theorem merely establishes the arithmetical undefinability of a set of specific Gödel codes of certain artefactual entities, such as infix strings, which are true in the standard model. That is, as opposed to its philosophical reading, the metamathematical theorem is formulated (and proved) relative to a specific choice of the Gödel numbering and the notation system. Similar observations apply to Gödel and Church's theorems, which are commonly taken to impose severe limitations on what can be proved and computed using the resources of certain formalisms. The philosophical force of these limitative results heavily relies on the belief that these theorems do not depend on contingencies regarding the underlying representation choices. The main aim of this talk is to put this belief under scrutiny by exploring the extent to which we can abstract away from specific representations in the formulations and proofs of several metamathematical results.


(7) [Cancelled] On Monday, December 4 at 4.30pm (CET), Room Multiuso, Theology Building (USI west campus)
Alyssa Ney (UC Davis)
The Argument from Locality for Many Worlds Quantum Mechanics
Chaired by Cristian Mariani (USI)

Abstract: One motivation for preferring the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics over realist rivals, such as collapse and hidden variables theories, is that the interpretation is able to preserve locality (in the sense of no action at a distance) in a way these other theories cannot. The primary goal of this paper is to make this argument for the many worlds interpretation precise, in a way that does not rely on controversial assumptions about the metaphysics of many worlds.


If you want to stay updated on our incoming events, please visit this webpage, or subscribe to our mailing list.

For any question, please don't hesitate to write to [email protected]

Cristian Mariani, Marta Pedroni, Léon Probst

Events of the Institute of Philosophy (ISFI)
with the SNSF funded projects:
Essentialism and Mentalism in Austrian Economics, Quantum Indeterminacy, and The Genealogy of Modes of Being.