The Philosophy Institute promotes interdisciplinary research among Universidad Austral’s faculty. The goal of Institute’s research projects is to probe into the ontological, epistemological, anthropological and ethical foundations of the disciplines nurtured at our University. They fall into one of eight broad areas:

1. Philosophical foundations of the natural sciences

Scientific theories put forward foundational problems related to interpretation and inter-theoretical articulation issues. These are oftentimes ontological problems, which go about ignored in the daily practice of the sciences. The projects that apply to this area will propose interdisciplinary research to catalyze discoveries concerning the fundamental laws and structures of nature and to examine their philosophical and/or theological implications.

Featured project:

Inter-theoretical relations between quantum mechanics and other theoretical domains
Project Leader: Olimpia I. Lombardi


2. Philosophy of religion

Philosophy of religion studies issues concerning the existence and nature of the divine, its relation to the human being and the natural world, the nature of religion and its place in human life, among many others. As an essential actor in this examination of the divine, the natural and cognitive sciences also contribute to the discussion. The projects that apply to this area will propose interdisciplinary research that aims at enhancing our understanding of the possibility and purposes of the divine and its relation to the natural world.

Featured projects:

Human and divine providence
Project Leader: Ignacio Silva

The ontological argument for the existence of God
Project Leader: Ignacio Garay


3. Philosophy of the person and cognitive science

Different philosophical schools and methods have contributed to our overall knowledge of the person, with detailed analyses of human embodiment, subjectivity, relationality and openness to the transcendent. At the same time, the cognitive sciences, psychology in particular, also stimulate current philosophical reflection to explore the ontological foundations of the person. The projects that apply to this area will propose scientifically informed research that fosters a deeper understanding of the human person, including the nature of consciousness, spirituality, agency and relationality.

Featured project:

Philosophical and psychological study of the irreplaceability of persons
Project Leader: Juan F. Franck


4. Virtues and character

Psychology and education are revisiting the study of character strength as a means to understand people and their potential development. Nowadays it is generally admitted that many virtues -e. g. compassion, generosity, honesty, loyalty, justice- are necessary for social interaction. In this scenario, philosophical knowledge and scientific expertise are closely intertwined. The projects that apply to this area will propose interdisciplinary research to promote a deeper understanding of how character virtues are internalized and strengthened, how they advance our wellbeing, and how they shape our sense of meaning and purpose.

Featured projects:

“Hero” and “Little Hero”. Two technological application to Foster prosocial behavior in adolescents and children
Project Leader: Belén Mesurado


5. Cognitive sciences of religion

The cognitive science of religion is a research field that applies theories and concepts of the cognitive science to explain religious thought and behavior. As a field of interdisciplinary research, it includes reflections and studies coming from cognitive science and theology. The projects that apply to this area will propose interdisciplinary research that aims to understand spiritual beliefs, experiences, and practices and their implications for human flourishing. They can also be investigations that explore the ways in which spiritual well-being and physical and mental health might be mutually related.

Featured project:

Children’s discernment of the capacity for prior knowledge in human and non-human agents
Postdoctoral fellow: Emilia Oñate


6. Moral Psychology

Projects in the moral psychology area aim at promoting a truly interdisciplinary approach on the moral decision-making process. Focusing mainly (but not exclusively) on the neural and cognitive bases of the moral intuitions, reasoning, habits, and emotions, we are particularly interested in researches that explore the plausibility of a human core of moral evaluations and motivations beyond the conspicuous cultural and individual differences. Finding credible empirical data on these topics could represent an important input for philosophical and theological controversies.

Featured project:

Universal Moral Grammar. A cognitivist approach to natural law?
Project Leader: Mariano Asla


7. Epistemology of interdisciplinary research

Interdisciplinary research raises new challenges for the philosophy of knowledge and in general for the cognitive sciences. In order to reverse the excess of specialization and to make room for the cross-enrichment of disciplines it seems necessary to migrate from the current epistemic plurality towards a collaborative project of social cognition that demands specific intellectual virtues.

Featured projects:

Developing the intellectual virtues for research in Science and the Big Questions
Project Leader: Claudia E. Vanney

Epistemology of interdisciplinary research between philosophy and science
Project Leader: Claudia E. Vanney


8. Philosophical ethics facing science and technology

Ethics cannot reasonably lead human behavior in our world without a conscious dialogue with sciences and technology, where mutual respect of different ends and methodologies is essential. The interdisciplinary research projects that apply to this area will focus both on the influence that science and technology could exert on ethics, and on the ethical appraisal of the contemporary techno-science. As an example of the first topic, research projects on the genetic/neural/cognitive basis of moral decission making are welcome. Regarding the second issue, we would to delve into the ethical challenges posed by transhumanism or by the ecological and environmental problems.

Featured project:

Transhumanism, ethics and human nature
Project Leader: Mariano Asla