From August 10th to 13th, 2015, the Third Interdisciplinary Research Week on «Determinism and Indeterminism: From Neuroscience to Philosophy» took place at the Pilar Campus. This week was part of a three-year project funded by the John Templeton Foundation, which began in 2013 and aimed to study the impact of new scientific findings on issues related to the determinism/indeterminism of nature, promoting interdisciplinary collaboration among Spanish-speaking scientists, philosophers, and theologians.
The week began with a seminar titled «Mental Health and Freedom,» led by Dr. Juan José Sanguineti (Università della Santa Croce, Italy) and Dr. Pascual Gargiulo (National University of Cuyo, Argentina). It was attended by a diverse group of psychologists, doctors, neuroscientists, biologists, philosophers, and theologians.
On Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, two open conferences were held for the general public. The first, titled «The Mind-Brain Problem and the Idea of Man,» was delivered by Dr. Carlos Blanco (Universidad Pontificia Comillas, Spain). The second conference, titled «Does the Word ‘Consciousness’ Still Make Psychologists Laugh?» was given by Dr. José Ahumada (National University of Córdoba).
The highlight of the week was the Workshop held in the afternoons of the last three days, which consisted of six working sessions (two per day) and fostered a enriching dialogue among more than 30 participants from five countries. The Workshop began with a dialogue between two speakers (one representing science and the other philosophy or theology) based on a triggering question, followed by open discussion among all participants.
In the first session, philosophers questioned scientists about the epistemological foundations of their discipline. In this session, Dr. Ivana Anton Mlinar (National University of Cuyo, Argentina) engaged in dialogue with Dr. Martín López Vicchi (Universidad Austral, Argentina) regarding questions such as: How do the different epistemological levels of cognitive sciences, psychology, and neuroscience relate to each other? Do neurological descriptions and explanations offer a deterministic or indeterministic view?
In the second session, Dr. Juan Francisco Franck (Universidad Austral, Argentina) and Dr. Luis Echarte (University of Navarra, Spain) explored the topic of dualism, discussing whether an epistemological or semantic dualism between the mental and neural is viable without some form of ontological duality, such as that of mind and body.
On the second day of the Workshop, scientists questioned philosophers, and the working sessions focused on brain complexity, the establishment of goals, and the exercise of freedom in relation to determinism.
In the third session of the workshop, Dr. Pablo Brumovsky (Universidad Austral, Argentina) engaged in dialogue with Dr. Miguel García Valdecasas (University of Navarra, Spain) regarding the possibility that a complex and organized structure like the brain could be the seat of non-reductionist mental causation compatible with freedom. In the fourth session, Dr. Ángela Suburo (Universidad Austral, Argentina) and Dr. José Ignacio Murillo (University of Navarra, Spain) discussed the establishment of goals and free will within an indeterministic framework.
On the final day, philosophers and theologians were questioned by scientists about the possibility of discussing the human soul and freedom in a neurobiological discourse.
In the fifth session, Dr. Marcelo Villar (Universidad Austral, Argentina) and Dr. Juan José Sanguineti (Pontificia Università della Santa Croce, Italy) pondered whether the human mind emerges from supercomplex neural systems. In the sixth session, Dr. Carlos Blanco (Universidad Pontificia Comillas, Spain) and Dr. Juan Pablo Roldán (Universidad Católica Argentina) discussed the possibility of distinguishing between free will and freedom and the compatibility of the concept of personal freedom with neuroscientific research.
You can view more photos of the Third Interdisciplinary Research Week here.