The following projects have been funded by the Universidad Austral:

Philosophical and psychological study of the irreplaceability of persons

Principal Researcher: Juan F. Franck

Ressearchers: Lucas Rodríguez, Mariano Asla

Project Duration: 2019-2020

Amount Awarded: $250,000 (Universidad Austral) and USD 10,195.50 (Fuller Theological Seminary)

By combining philosophical knowledge with qualitative research in psychology, the project will explore new cross-disciplinary ways to approach an aspect of the problem of personal identity, namely the distinctive uniqueness and irreplaceability of each individual person. That in general we have no problem recognizing the same person across life changes suggests some kind of intuitive dualism, a sort of grasp of an individual person-essence or soul, which remains the same in spite of the modifications gone through. Our project will explore ways to tackle a complementary issue of our grasp of personal identity, which we may express with a pair of questions: is there any distinct perception of the uniqueness of each person when all other features, bodily and mental, are indistinguishable? That is, would it matter to us if the individual person we relate to is replaced, even though physical traits, memories, gestures, character, etc., remain the same? By carrying out qualitative research our purpose is to study the perception or awareness of this uniqueness in young adults, based on the assumption that we have a natural insight into the irreplaceable character of persons and their non-fungibility. With this interdisciplinary study we also expect to renovate the philosophical discussion on personal identity.

Inter-theoretical relations between quantum mechanics and other theoretical domains

Principal Researcher: Claudia E. Vanney

Ressearchers: Sebastian E. Fortin, Olimpia I. Lombardi, Juan Camilo González, Martín G. Labarca, María José Ferreira, Cristina A. López, Hernán L. Accorinti, Jesús A. Jaimes Arriaga.

Project Duration: 2019-2021

Amount Awarded: $180,000

The project is framed within the scope of the links between the general philosophy of science and the philosophies of particular sciences. From the general philosophy of science we will take the theoretical frameworks of reductionism and ontological pluralism, and compare its adequacy to specific cases belonging to the field of philosophies of particular sciences, in our case, physical and chemical.

The general objectives are to analyze certain philosophical problems that arise both in the fields of physics and chemistry, as well as in the field of inter-theoretical relations within each of these disciplines and interdisciplinary relations between them. In this way the work plan is organized around 2 themes:

Relations between quantum mechanics and classical mechanics: the general objective is to clarify the conceptual aspects of the Modal-Hamiltonian interpretation, in particular, by developing the type of classical limit that derives from it. On the other hand, the conceptual unification of the interpretation will be approached with our previous approach of the classical limit based on the use of non-unit evolutions in open and closed systems. For this, a logical characterization of the classical limit will be carried out from a formal-mathematical point of view. And such formalism will be applied to the description of specific phenomena such as the Loschmidt echo.

Relations between quantum chemistry and mechanics: Based on previous work on the subject, progress will be made in the study and analysis of the ontology of quantum chemistry. In particular, it is intended to analyze in detail the way in which quantum chemistry models integrate conceptual and qualitative assumptions from different theories, sometimes incompatible. This will address the study of the problem of 3N dimensions in molecular chemistry. In turn, we will extend our study to solid state substances and analyze the ontological status of phonons.

Transhumanism, ethics and human nature

Principal Researcher: Mariano Asla

Ressearchers: Juan Francisco Franck y Soledad Paladino

Project Duration: 2019-2020

Amount Awarded: $180,000

The transhumanist program proposes the modification, via technology, of human biology, in order to strengthen our natural capacities (physical, psychological, intellectual, and moral), end illnesses, and radically extend life expectancy.

The present investigation consists of two parts. In the first, the usual division between radical and moderate TH will be analyzed (Göcke 2018). Then, a critique of both will be made in the light of Thomistic anthropology. The second part consists in the philosophical analysis of a particular transhumanist proposal, which consists in the suppression of sleep as a way of obtaining more time for active life (Istvan 2019). The results of the project will be reflected in two articles to be published in scientific journals, two papers in International Congresses, two international seminars for teachers and two dissemination talks.


Epistemology of interdisciplinary research between philosophy and science

Principal Researcher: Claudia E. Vanney

Ressearchers: Belén Mesurado, Juan José Sanguineti and Ivana Anton Mlinar

Project Duration: 2019-2020

Amount Awarded: $180,000

The aim of this project is to explore a cognitive explanation for interdisciplinary research. Its main hypothesis is to affirm that to reverse the excess of specialization giving rise to cross-fertilization between disciplines it is necessary to migrate from the existing epistemic plurality towards a collaborative process of social cognition. The psychological phenomenon of joint attention will be explored for this, seeking to extend it towards the consideration of joint intellectual attention that can account for interdisciplinary research. The relationship of the second person established between the researchers and the required intellectual dispositions will be analyzed. First, it will seek to base the hypotheses from the philosophy of knowledge. Secondly, it will seek to operationalize the notions proposed to develop a tool for empirical evaluation of joint intellectual attention in interdisciplinary research.

The ontological argument as an argument in favor of the existence of God

Principal Researcher: Ignacio Garay

Researchers: Ignacio Silva

Project Duration: 2019-2020

Amount Awarded: $156.000

The arguments in favor of the existence of God have been of central importance throughout the history of philosophy. Among them, the ontological argument stands out for its peculiarity and influence, even today. The dispute over its contemporary formulations and the objections against them, shows a strong influence of the formulations and objections coined in German rationalism. For this reason, this project will focus on the critical analysis of the formulations of the ontological arguments of Leibniz, Wolff and Baumgarten, on the one hand, and the objections against them of Crusius and Kant, on the other hand. The results will be presented in a paper at a congress, in an article, and in a book.

Hero: a virtual intervention program to promote prosocial behaviors in adolescents

Director: Dr. Belén Mesurado

Co-director: Dr. Claudia Vanney

Ressearchers: Dr. Gabriela Robiolo – Lic. María José Distefano – Lic. Paulina Guerra

Project Duration: 2018-2020

Amount Awarded: $120,000

Abstract: The aim of this project is to study the effectiveness of a virtual intervention program in the promotion of prosocial behaviors, variables linked to them and in the inhibition of aggressive behaviors in adolescents. The selection of the sample is not probabilistic and intentional, although the assignment to the groups (experimental and control) will be done in a random way. The population will be constituted by 200 adolescents of both sexes between 13 and 15 years old. For the evaluation of the variables, the prosocial behavior toward different targets questionnaire will be used (Padilla-Walker and Christensen, 2011), Physical and Verbal Aggressiveness Scale (Caprara and Pastorelli,), Interpersonal Reactivity Index (Davis, 1980), Scale of Forgiveness (Rye et al., 2001), Gratitude Questionnaire GQ-6 (McCullough et al., 2002) and Flourishing Life Scale (Mesurado, et al, 2016). It is estimated that there are statistically significant changes in all the variables studied in the experimental group, while it is expected to find no changes in the variables evaluated in the control group. The changes obtained through the intervention are expected to be stable.

Determinism and Indeterminism: From Cognitive Sciences to Philosophy

Principal Researcher: Dr. Juan F. Franck

Ressearchers: Dr. Claudia Vanney (Universidad Austral), Dr. Juan José Sanguineti (Universidad de la Santa Croce, Roma), Dr. Gabriel Zanotti (Universidad Austral), Dr. José Ignacio Murillo (Universidad de Navarra), Dr. Ignacio Silva (University of Oxford).

Research Assistant: Mariano Asla (Universidad Austral), Agustina Lombardi (Universidad Austral).

Project Duration: 2014-2015

Amount Awarded: $ 20,200

Abstract: The project addressed the problem of determinism or indeterminism in the field of human decisions, as they appear in the neurosciences and in the philosophical debates they have given rise to, mainly in the last 30 years. Its goals are: a) to elucidate the epistemological level of neuroscience within the cognitive sciences, and relative to psychology and philosophy; b) to analyze the possibility of human freedom within the framework of a determinist or an indeterminist nature; c) to study the compatibility of the existence of a personal human soul with the neurobiological approach. It included a monthly research seminar and an Interdisciplinary Research Week, with the aims of unifying the specific technical vocabulary and of consolidating the network of Spanish-speaking researchers working in these issues.

Determinism and Indeterminism: From Physics to Philosophy

Principal Researcher: Dra. Claudia Vanney

Ressearchers: Dr. Juan Francisco Franck (Universidad de Montevideo), Olimpia Lombardi (Conicet, Universidad de Buenos Aires), Dr. Alejandro Clausse (Conicet, Universidad Nacional del Centro de la Provincia de Buenos Aires), Dr. Juan José Sanguineti (Universidad de la Santa Croce, Roma), Dr. Ignacio Silva (University of Oxford), Dr. Juan Arana (Universidad de Sevilla).

Research Assistant: Lic. Mariano Asla (Universidad Austral), Lic. Alan Heiblum (Universidad Austral), Lic. Ignacio del Carril (Universidad Austral).

Project Duration: 2013-2014

Amount Awarded: $ 20,000

Abstract: This project investigated a traditionally philosophical theme, such as the debate on determinism, from some new perspectives which contemporary physics opened up and delving also into its theological implications. It aimed at: 1) clarifying the notions of determinism/indeterminism in physics, distinguishing its ontological and epistemological implications; 3) evaluating the conditions under which some current physical theories, particularly quantum mechanics and chaos theory, put forward an indeterminist paradigm of nature; 3) showing that contemporary physics does not close the doors to the existence of a creator and provident God. By means of a Monthly Research Seminar and an Interdisciplinary Research Week a network of Spanish-speaking researchers working on these issues was consolidated.

Determinism and Freedom: Physical Determinism and its Consequences

Principal Researcher: Dra. Claudia Vanney

Ressearchers: Dr. Alejandro Clausse (Conicet, Universidad Nacional del Centro de la Provincia de Buenos Aires), Dra. Olimpia Lombardi (Conicet, Universidad de Buenos Aires).

Project Duration: 2009-2010

Amount Awarded: $ 15,600

The goals of this investigation were: 1) to discriminate the meaning of the terms causality, contingency, determination, efficaciousness, necessity, capacity of prediction and freedom in the literature; 2) to evaluate, having the debate on determinism as a starting point, the epistemological status of different physico-mathematical theories, in order to determine the scope of scientific realism; 3) to move forward in the formulation of a new modal-Hamiltonian interpretation of quantum mechanics which may provide an adequate answer to the measurement problem, facing the problems of contextuality and quantum indistinguishability, in terms of an ontology of properties and relations that accounts for the principle of indeterminacy.

Since it is a theoretical investigation of philosophical nature, the general methodology was the detailed study and critical analysis of the problems and of the different solutions put forward in the literature, as well as the usual procedures in theoretical physics. The study of determinism was approached from the state of the art, in both the philosophical and the physico-mathematical fields.

Epistemological and anthropological foundations of sceince and technology

Principal Researcher: Dra. Claudia Vanney

Ressearchers: Dr. Alejandro Clausse (Conicet, Universidad Nacional del Centro de la Provincia de Buenos Aires), Dr. Roberto Bosca (Universidad Austral), Dr. Emiliano Hong (Universidad Austral), Dr. Gustavo Bitocchi (Universidad Austral).

Project Duration: 2008

Amount Awarded: $5,200

Abstract: The goal of this investigation was to deepen in the epistemological and anthropological foundations of science and technology, in two main directions. The epistemological study tried to determine the epistemological status of mathematical objects employed by contemporary science, in order to establish their link to reality. The anthropological study analyzed man’s free actions to account for his practical and technical intervention in his natural surroundings, highlighting the social responsibility of his actions and deepening in the outcome of his doings.

Ortega y Gasset’s anthropology and Leonardo Polo’s theory of knowledge were particularly studied, confronting their proposals with other contemporary thinkers of different philosophical traditions.