21st International Interdisciplinary Seminar

3 – 5 January 2019

Communication track | Philosophy and Science track

Freedom and Equality: a Christian approach

International Interdisciplinary Seminar Communication Track
Organised by: The Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies (Zürich and Geneva) and Netherhall House (London)

In 1789, the French Revolution ushered a new era under the banner of freedom, equality and fraternity. Two centuries later there is considerable conflict between the advocates of equality (marriage equality, gender equality, free access to medical procedures, non-discrimination) and the advocates of freedom (freedom of expression, artistic freedom, freedom to dissent, conscientious objection).

The Church in particular is seen as in favour of discrimination, and against giving equal treatment in employment, goods and services to all people regardless of sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Are Christians to have these “freedoms” or should there be restrictions on what are seen as bigoted beliefs? This seminar seeks to explore the different aspects of the perceived battle between freedom and equality to try to see if the two can work together as partners rather than rivals.

Topics of the seminar

  • Can Christian schools continue to teach only about traditional marriage?
  • Employers who campaign for changes in marriage laws and rights of employees to dissent
  • Catholic agencies and the laws on gay marriage and gay adoption
  • Bakers or florists refusing their products for gay weddings
  • Banning of psychotherapy for gay people who wish to live a straight or celibate life
  • Banning of medical care for children with gender dysphoria which is not affirmative therapy
  • Safe spaces and trigger warnings at universities
  • Banning of religious signs or clothing in the workplace
  • Anti-discrimination and equality legislation: intended and unintended outcomes
  • Should the state keep funding faith schools or should all state schools be secular?
  • Is religious freedom more than freedom of worship?
  • Conscientious objection in healthcare: abortion, euthanasia, contraception, etc.
  • Equal access of women to the workplace, and gender preferences
  • The role of civil society as an intermediary between the state and the individual

Sessions
Fri 4th January — Academic sessions in London (including standing-lunch and coffee breaks),
10.00 – 18.00 h.
Sat 5th January — Academic sessions in London (including standing-lunch and coffee breaks),
10.00 – 18.00 h.

Venue
Netherhall House,
Nutley Terrace, London.
NW3 5SA

Costs
£70 for participation to the Academic Sessions, two standing-lunches and coffee breaks.
Excursion to Oxford and accommodation are not included.

Registration
If you are interested in attending, please complete the online application form.

Accommodation
All participants are kindly requested to make their own accommodation arrangements.
Affordable accommodation can be found at:

  • Palmers Lodge, Swiss Cottage (only five minutes walk away from the venue of the Conference).
  • Netherhall House (Please note that Netherhall can offer accommodation only for male participants).

Submission of papers
Authors are invited to submit a 100 word abstract to the Symposium secretariat, Jack Valero (jack.valero@me.com).

Schedule
30th Apr 2018 — First Announcement and first Call
15th Sep 2018 — Pre-registration deadline
15th Oct 2018 — Final Call with preliminary program
22nd Oct 2018 — Submission of abstracts
3 – 5 Jan 2019 — Seminar

Science and Society: Defining what is human

International Interdisciplinary Seminar Philosophy and Science track
Organised by: The Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies (Zürich and Geneva) and Netherhall House (London)

Quantum physics, evolutionary biology, neuroscience, and computer science have brought
results which seem to be of help in overcoming a flat materialistic view of the world and of human
beings.
On the other hand, science is giving rise to powerful technologies which will increase our capacity
for constructing the world and shaping humanity. Quantum computing and Genome editing
(CRISPR/Cas9) are among the technologies with the most far-reaching implications.
The fascination with new technologies needs to be enriched with reflection about how scientific
results may contribute to discussing and answering anthropological, philosophical and theological
questions relevant to science and technology.

This International Interdisciplinary Seminar aims to address the tendency of reducing
anthropological notions to scientific notions and technological achievements, defining humanity
merely in terms of what the individual can do.

Topics of the seminar

  • Experimental science relies on observation. Can there be observation without the human
    observer, including his or her five senses?
  • If the universe only starts with our observations, is then the Big Bang here?
  • Free-will and personal identity logically precede the formulation of scientific theories. Are
    rationality and science without free-will and consciousness even possible?
  • Experiments in neuroscience are persistently referred to in popular media as demonstrating
    that we make our decisions unconsciously. Do these results actually achieve what is
    claimed, and do they exclude responsible behaviour?
  • The Multiverse: Hypothesis of atheism or parable of God’s omniscience?
  • Arguably, the beginning of humanity cannot be established exclusively by genetic
    evolutionary means. What are the anthropological implications of these limitations?
  • Human creativity cannot be reduced to deterministic computing. Could it however be
    reduced to quantum computing? And what is quantum computing after all?
  • Can we define what is human without referring to moral responsibility and sense of law?
  • Transhumanism: what are the possibilities and dangers of “improving” humanity?
  • Do human beings need to make sense of the whole depth of their experience?

Sessions
Thu 3rd January — Visit to Oxford with scientific sessions
Fri 4th January — Academic sessions in London (including standing-lunch and coffee breaks),
10.00 – 18.00 h.
Sat 5th January — Academic sessions in London (including standing-lunch and coffee breaks),
10.00 – 18.00 h.

Venue
Netherhall House,
Nutley Terrace, London
NW3 5SA

Costs
£70 for participation to the Academic Sessions, two standing-lunches and coffee breaks.
Excursion to Oxford and accommodation are not included.

Registration
If you are interested in attending, please complete the online application form.

Accommodation
All participants are kindly requested to make their own accommodation arrangements.
Affordable accommodation can be found at:

  • Palmers Lodge, Swiss Cottage (only five minutes walk away from the venue of the Conference).
  • Netherhall House (Please note that Netherhall can offer accommodation only for male participants).

Submission of papers
Authors are invited to submit a 100 word abstract to the Symposium secretariat, Ignasi Fainé (faine@leman.ch).

Schedule
30th Apr 2018 — First Announcement and first Call
15th Sep 2018 — Pre-registration deadline
15th Oct 2018 — Final Call with preliminary program
22nd Oct 2018 — Submission of abstracts
3 – 5 Jan 2019 — Seminar

Thursday, January 3rd, 2019 (Oxford)
Morning (11.00-14.00)
Ashmolean Museum: “Kish tablet from Sumer”, the earliest known writing, 3500 BC.
Afternoon (14.00-17.30)
Experts meeting and panel.
Lecture Theatre, Hume Rothery Building, Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3PH
We meet at the Entrance at 13.45.
14.00 Andrew Briggs (Nanomaterials, University of Oxford):
What lies at the root of the long entanglement between science and religion?
(on the basis of the book The Penultimate Curiosity (OUP)
14.30 Discussion
14.45 Andrew Steane (Clarendon Laboratory, University of Oxford):
About the structure of science and how it fits into our wider values.
(On the basis of the book It Keeps Me Seeking (OUP).
15.15 Discussion
15.30 Panel:
Is science part of a larger story about what is good and what is bad?
Moderator: Peter Adams
Introductory statements by:
Mark Fox (Sheffield), Zeeya Merali (London), Alfred Driessen (Twente),
Antoine Suarez (Zürich and Geneva), Massimiliano Berti (Trieste), Vuko Brigljevic (Zagreb and Geneva)
16:45 Discussion among experts and with the public.
Friday, January 4th, 2019 (Netherhall)
Academic sessions and tutorials in Netherhall House, London. (10.00 – 18.00 h.)
10.00  Dominic Jones (Director of Netherhall House):
Organizational Issues.
Antoine Suarez (Center for Quantum Philosophy, Zürich and Geneva):
Opening Note.
10.15 Amber te Winkel (Amsterdam University College-AUC)
Tutorial: A general introduction to quantum mechanics.
10.45   Discussion
11.00 Mark Fox (University of Sheffield):
How close are we to constructing a quantum computer?
11.30   Coffee Break.
12.00 Marco Natale (IPE Business School)
The Turing test.
12.30 Maciej Besta (Swiss Institute of Technology, ETH Zürich):
Graph processing and quantum computing.
13.00 Discussion.
13: 15 Standing lunch.
14.30 Ilyas Khan (Chairman of the Stephen Hawking Foundation and
CEO of Cambridge Quantum Computing)
Do AI and advanced computers pose an existential threat to humanity?
15.00 Discussion.
15.15 Antoine Suarez (Center for Quantum Philosophy, Zürich and Geneva):
Defining what is human.
15.45 Discussion.
16.00   Coffee Break.
16.30 Adrian Pablé (University of Hong Kong)
Science as human activity: a semiological account.
17.00   Gennaro Luise (Pontificia Università della Santa Croce, Rome)
Is there in God a material part? Giving dignity to the body.
17.30 Discussion.
Saturday, January 5th, 2019 (Netherhall)
Academic sessions and tutorials in Netherhall House, London. (10.00 – 18.00 h.)
10.00 *TBC* (Amsterdam University College-AUC)
Tutorial: Multiverse vs. the Copenhagen interpretations in quantum physics.
10.30 Vuko Brigljevic (CERN, Geneva, and Rudjer Boskovic Institute, Zagreb)
Where is the “quantum observer”?
11.00   Alfred Driessen (emeritus, University of Twente)
Causality from outside time.
11.30 Discussion
11.45   Coffee Break
12.00   Massimiliano Berti (SISSA, Trieste):
In whose mind is mathematics an a priori knowledge?
12.30 Fabio Massaioli
The human desire for unlimited happiness.
13.00 Discussion
13.15 Lunch
14.30   Aurélien Robbe, Valentin Gabon and Ambroise Baudouin-Psaulme
(Centre Culturel Garnelles, Paris):
Will humanity evolve to a transhuman species?
15.00 Dominic Jones (University of Buckingham, London):
Can machines become human?
15.30   José Carlos Caballero (Cygnus Gymnasium and Nikhef, Amsterdam):
How far can and should we go in producing human-animal hybrids?
16.00   Jean-David Ponci (Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies, Geneva)
The importance of being  human.
16.30   Coffee Break.
17.00   Conclusive talk.
17.30   General discussion and suggestions.
18.00   End of the Conference.