Science and Society: Defining what is human

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

Objectives of the International Interdisciplinary Seminars

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
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.

Programme of the 21st edition of the Seminar
The 21st 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.

Scientific sessions
Thu 3th 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.

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?

Netherhall House,
Nutley Terrace, London.

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

If you are interested in attending, please contact enquiries@nh.netherhall.org.uk. This will ensure that
you receive further information about the Conference as it becomes available.

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).

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