Seminar Series in Moral Philosophy 2022-2023 - Practical Wisdom, Skill, and Ethical Expertise (ongoing)

Organizers: Sofia Bonicalzi (Roma Tre), Michel Croce (Genova), Mario De Caro (Roma Tre & Tufts), Claudia Navarini (Università Europea di Roma), Maria Silvia Vaccarezza (Genova)

11.11.2022 17:00 CET Matt Stichter (Washington State University)

Flourishing goals, metacognitive skills, and the virtue of wisdom

In this talk, I’ll elaborate some details of an account of wisdom based on my philosophical account of virtue as skill, and its grounding in self-regulatory and goal-oriented theories in psychology and cognitive science.  I’ll further discuss how this compares and contrasts to both the common wisdom model discussed by Grossmann, and a rival account of wisdom based on Aristotelian phronesis proposed by Kristjánsson.  I’ll focus on resolving two areas of contention between those models: accounting for moral aspirations and motivation (by drawing on goal theory); and the role of emotion in wisdom (by suggesting an enactivist approach). 

The registration of the talk is available here.

2.12.2022 17:00 CET Monika Ardelt (University of Florida)

Why and how are wisdom and moral virtues related?

According to Aristotle, practical wisdom and moral virtues are inherently intertwined with each other. Yet, why exactly should this be the case? In this presentation, I first provide a definition of practical wisdom and moral virtue before suggesting several theoretical reasons for the interconnection between wisdom and moral virtue. I then show how moral virtues are already embedded in contemporary definitions and operationalizations of wisdom, which might explain why measures of wisdom and indicators of moral character and virtue are correlated. However, it is not clear what the direction of the association is. Wise individuals are likely to behave morally, but a moral character might also make it easier to grow in wisdom. I introduce a short-term longitudinal study that attempts to answer the question whether wisdom increases moral virtues, moral virtues increase wisdom, or whether wisdom and moral virtues are reciprocally related. I conclude with an empirical test of Aristotle’s theory of wisdom, moral virtues, and flourishing.

The registration of the talk is available here.

13.01.2023 17:00 CET Paulina Sliwa (University of Wien)

Changing Hearts and Minds

This paper is about what we do when we give moral advice. Philosophical literature on moral testimony focuses on cases in which cases are trying to decide which action to pursue from a given set of options. But in our moral lives, we frequently turn to others for guidance because we need help making sense of a moral situation that leaves us confused or shaken. We are trying to figure out how to think and feel about an experience, not which action is most supported by our reasons. What is it to make sense of a moral situation? I propose an account and draw out consequences for moral epistemology as well as the ethics of giving advice. 

The registration of the talk is available here.

17.2.2023 17:00 CET Eranda Jayawickreme (Wake Forest University)

Can Whole Traits Scaffold Virtues?

Whole Trait Theory articulates an account of individuals’ traits that incorporates social-cognitive responsiveness to situations into the nature of traits themselves. It articulates two parts of individuals’ traits, which are joined together into whole traits. One part of individuals’ traits is the descriptive part, and describes how much people enact the trait content in their behavior. The other part is the explanatory part, and consists of social-cognitive, motivational, and biological mechanisms that cause the trait contents people enact in their behavior. Multiple studies have shown that trait-content enactments vary substantially from context to context.  Nonetheless, people differ in average trait-content enactments in very consistent and reliable ways. Additionally, these descriptive accounts of personality were found to be predicted by social-cognitive mechanisms; people appear to change states in order to accomplish the consequences desired by current goals at the time. In this talk, I provide an overview of Whole Trait Theory, and argue that it represents an exciting new avenue for interdisciplinary collaboration for studying virtue, as well as a basis for a richly developed psychological theory that could defend its position in favor of virtue ethics. 

Link to participate here.

17.3.2023 17:00 CET John Hacker-Wright (University of Guelph)

Practical Wisdom, Extended Rationality, and Human Agency

This paper defends a neo-Aristotelian conception of practical wisdom as a virtue that enables a human agent to reflect on and direct their life toward virtuous ends over time. This view is sometimes assumed to require commitment to an intellectualist Grand End or blueprint view, on which practical wisdom would require philosophical insight and an implausibly well worked out set of weighted preferences. In this paper I aim to show that particularists can and should take on much of what was thought to belong to the Grand End view. I argue for a conception of practical wisdom as a virtue of extended action that accounts for overarching ends without the need to appeal to an unrealistic, intellectualized blueprint for life. Further, on the view advocated here, as in Aristotle, practical wisdom is a virtue of substantial rationality and distinct capacity from instrumental rationality in that it requires reflection on what constitutes a good human life. But again, I will argue that this is not high-minded philosophical reflection, and in fact something rather mundane that draws on the same rational capacities we deploy to assess the goodness of actions.

Link to participate here.

14.4.2023 17:00 CET Jason Swartwood (Saint Paul College)

Practice for Wisdom:  On the Neglected Role of Critical Reflection

To become wise, we need to develop a reliably good grasp of how we ought to live and conduct ourselves, all things considered, across the concrete circumstances that make up our lives.  We need to understand what matters both in general and in particular situations and how this fits together into a well-lived life.  But achieving this understanding requires overcoming obstacles we all inevitably face.  We believe in general principles that are incompatible with our judgments about particular situations.  We judge apparently similar cases differently without good reason.  We are unsure what our general values and principles require in challenging situations.  We fail to take seriously alternative perspectives that could improve our own view of what matters or what we ought to do.  Overcoming these challenges, I argue, requires engaging in a type of critical reflection that has been neglected in contemporary wisdom research.  First, I illustrate the process of critical reflection using historical and contemporary examples.  Second, I show that this critical reflection is necessary for developing wisdom but absent in prominent accounts of wisdom.  Finally, I argue that focusing on the role of critical reflection in wisdom development has significant benefits: it helps us defend and specify the idea that wisdom is an expert decision-making skill, and it can help us better identify factors that contribute to or impede wisdom development.  

Link to participate here.

This cycle of events is part of the PRIN 2018-2020 and is jointly organized with Aretai - Center on Virtues (University of Genoa) 

Seminar Series in Moral Philosophy 2021-2022 (concluded)

Organizers: Sofia Bonicalzi (Roma Tre), Michel Croce (Genova), Mario De Caro (Roma Tre & Tufts), Claudia Navarini (Università Europea di Roma), Maria Silvia Vaccarezza (Genova)

08.10.2021 17:00 CEST Kristján Kristjánsson (University of Birmingham)

What is Phronesis and How to Develop it?

I discuss the rising interest in Aristotle''s concept of phronesis and how the discourse on phronesis needs to advance beyond his own fairly scattered and unsystematic remarks. I explain the Jubilee Centre's new conceptualisation of phronesis as a four-componential construct and some of the empirical evidence underwriting it. I then offer some preparatory remarks about the cultivation of phronesis, e.g. among professionals. I end by exploring an issue that has almost completely been neglected in the phronesis literature: Aristotle's account of collective managerial phronesis from his Politics.

The registration of the talk is available here.

19.11.2021 17:00 CET Pavlos Kontos (University of Patras)

Experience-based variations of practical wisdom or phronêsis as ethical expertise

In a couple of recent papers, Mario De Caro, Maria Silvia Vaccarezza, Ariele Nicoli, and others, have submitted the idea that practical wisdom, understood as ethical expertise, has a priority over ethical virtues, “is manifested at various degrees in different domains, and that [its] description can be given in terms of clusters of traditional virtues.” I subscribe to the above idea. But still much more should be said in order to fill in with details what the vague terms “various”, “different”, and “clusters” refer to, and how exactly one should analyze the “unitary” character of practical wisdom in order not to undermine its richness.  I will maintain that (a) it is misleading to differentiate practical wisdom’s function simply by “degrees”, (b) there is room to offer a nuanced and solid account of the “domains” of its exercise, and (c) there is room (without succumbing to localism or fragmentation) to offer an exact analysis of how, and why, it relates to particular ethical virtues.  Drawing material from my recent book, Aristotle on the Scope of Practical Reason (Routledge 2021), I will close with a concrete example that may serve as a guide to such a project

The registration of the talk is available here.

17.12.2021 17:00 CET Nancy Snow (University of Oklahoma)

Phronesis and Whole Trait Theory

Recently, two colleagues from developmental psychology and I published a paper in which we integrate a neo-Aristotelian conception of phronesis with a recently developed psychological theory, whole trait theory.  In this presentation, I'll review our conception of phronesis and show how it integrates with this theory.  This will require some discussion of whole trait theory, which I'll also undertake.

The registration of the talk is available here.

21.01.2022 17:00 CET Darcia Narvaez (University of Notre Dame)

The Practical Wisdom of a Human Nature Raised According to Human Evolutionary History

To judge the goodness of an individual species’ member, we must understand what kind of organism it is. Each organism has characteristic features, which are good for the creature to have and that, when missing, make the individual a defective member of the species. When discussing human beings, we must understand the nature of the human organism and its development, what qualities help the human organism lead a full life, and what kinds of action and capacities make it a proper member of its species. Only then, can practical wisdom be discussed. Humans have characteristics that turtles do not have. They are biosocial creatures—their biology is constructed by experience in the first years after conception, more so than most every other animal. Humanity’s evolved developmental niche (EDN) provides the supportive care that children expect for optimal development of a nature that distinguishes us from other apes. Societies that provide the EDN grow a different human nature from the one commonly observed in high income nations. Their embodied, extended, and enacted cognitions are more socially intelligent and earth-centered.

The registration of the talk is available here.

11.02.2022 17:00 CET Dan Lapsley (University of Notre Dame)

Is Phronesis a Psychological Construct?

Phronesis does heavy lifting in Aristotelian-inspired virtue ethics. On one account “virtue ethics cannot survive without a robust commitment to phronesis” (Russell, 2009, p. 3) because otherwise it is difficult to establish a connection between having a virtue and doing what is right. Phronesis is also held-out by Neo-Aristotelians as a psychological construct crucial to the work of empirical moral psychology. It is commonly invoked further afield as a construct crucial to professional practice of all kinds, to research on wisdom and other applications in general psychology. The general aim of my remarks is to show how social cognitive theories of personality and development account for key features of phronesis. First, I will survey prominent interpretations of phronesis as discussed in recent philosophical literature to identify aspects that call for psychological specification. In particular, I will focus on phronesis as a meta-virtue, the moral character interpretation of phronesis, and the phronesis-as-blueprint component. Second, I will explore the resources of social-cognitive theories of personality and development for explaining the work of phronesis. Social cognitive theory provides constructs and mechanisms that account for perceptual sensitivity and discriminative facility credited to phronesis, including attentional and encoding processes that influence how events are represented, interpreted, and remembered. Social cognitive theories of personality, such as KAPA and CPAS, and social cognitive theories of moral self-identity and its development, link the operations of phronesis to dispositional character; and the development of metacognition provides a framework for understanding phronesis as a meta-virtue. Finally, I will conclude with some thoughts about phronesis as a psychological variable.

The registration of the talk is available here.

11.03.2022 17:00 CET Christian Miller (Wake Forest University)

Flirting with Skepticism about Practical Wisdom

This paper maps out various options for thinking about two issues: the structural relationship between practical wisdom and the moral virtues, and the various functions of practical wisdom. With the help of a case study of the virtue of honesty, three main concerns are raised for what I call the Standard Model of practical wisdom. Two other models, the Socratic Model and the Fragmentation Model, are also critically evaluated. I end by taking seriously an eliminativist approach according to which the trait of practical wisdom does not exist.

The registration of the talk is available here.

08.04.2022 17:00 CET Dan Russell (University of Arizona)

The Reciprocity of the Virtues

Notoriously, Aristotle reasoned as follows: To have any virtue requires practical wisdom (phronēsis); but wisdom brings all the virtues with it, so to have any virtue is to have all the virtues. This is an idealization known nowadays as the reciprocity of the virtues. No surprise, reciprocity has a drawn a lot of attention, focused chiefly on the very idea of having all the virtues. That exclusive focus risks missing a key insight—what I argue is the key insight—of this idealization, and that is the distinct significance of the interdependence of the virtues. That is why it is wisdom that makes them a set: it takes wisdom to find the “mean” of a virtue; but we never have to find just one mean at a time, and the virtues aren’t discrete. Being both forthright and tactful, say, in telling an uncomfortable truth is not to do two discrete things at the same time. Fusing both at once is part of what it is to do either of them well. The role of reciprocity is to highlight that interdependence, and with it the distinctive challenges for wisdom and development that interdependence brings. I begin with Aristotle’s version of reciprocity, as well as the interdependence of virtues it serves to highlight, before looking at how interdependence creates challenges all its own for learning and development. Lastly, I will reflect on how the idealization of reciprocity, and perhaps idealization more generally, might help us better understand the nature of virtue.

Link to participate here. ID meeting: 950 6540 6997 Passcode: 674726

31.05.2022 17:00 CET Howard Nusbaum (University of Chicago)

Understanding the Psychology of Wise Reasoning

People face different kinds of decisions and problems every day ranging from simple to complex and from personal to professional. Most of the time these problems appear to have a limited number of choices and seem straightforward. Which shirt to wear, which car to buy, whether to go out with a friend are all common and recognizable situations. Even when we worry about the decision we do not think about the virtues that might be involved. Instead we consider features of the situation as costs and benefits, sometimes even making a balance sheet. However most people do not think about these decisions as involving virtues or wisdom. What is a wise decision and how does it differ from a smart one? While we deliberate about the details of such situations and the choice we wish to make, we do not think much about the process by which we make these choices. In recent years psychological science has begun to analyze wisdom into foundational capacities and knowledge rather than consider wisdom a monolithic talent. Rather than treat wisdom as mythical or an idealization, psychological science is starting to consider this as a type of thinking that takes into account social values and impact and depends on several fundamental psychological capacities such as empathy, perspective taking, self-regulation, perseverance, and reflection. I will discuss psychological theories of wisdom, how wise reasoning may be particularly critical in the face of moral and ethical challenges, research that is relevant to understanding wisdom, and consider how wise reasoning may increase with certain kinds of experiences.

The registration of the talk is available here.

10.06.2022 17:00 CET Blaine J. Fowers (University of Miami)

A Proof-of-Concept Study of a Multifunction Approach to Assessing Aristotelian Phronesis

Psychologists have actively studied wisdom for decades. Unfortunately, psychological wisdom researchers have adopted ad hoc approaches, typically lacking the guidance of a core theory or philosophy. Unsurprisingly, the results have been conceptual confusion and a lack of research cumulativeness. This study assessed a four-function model of Aristotelian phronesis (Darnel et al., 2019). In this study, we approximated these four functions with existing measures to provide a “proof of concept” investigation. The constitutive function was assessed with virtue identification, selection, and relevance measures. The integrative function was estimated from observed measures of action choices and justifications. The blueprint function was estimated with measures of moral identity. The emotion regulation function was estimated with scales assessing empathy and perspective taking. A second-order factor model fit the hypothesized structure well with independent samples of UK adults and adolescents. This second-order factor was labeled phronesis and it correlated positively with the criterion measure of prosocial behavior. The results suggest the empirical viability of a four-function model of phronesis and prepare the way for more rigorous studies of this concept. 

The registration of the talk is available here.

This cycle of events is part of the PRIN 2018-2020 and is jointly organized with Aretai - Center on Virtues (University of Genoa) 

Ethics and Technology (ongoing)

Organizers: Sofia Bonicalzi (Roma Tre), Mario De Caro (Roma Tre & Tufts), Benedetta Giovanola (Macerata & Tufts)

27.11.2020 17:30 CET Ophelia Deroy (LMU, Munich) 

 Justifying vigilance toward AI 

Governments and companies are calling for "trustworthy AI" : Artificial agents and algorithms that humans can trust for being fair, as well as reliable. In this talk I want to raise another concern against this quasi-unanimous agenda : some philosophers object that trust can only hold between persons, and that AI are not persons, but I accept that AI are endowed with personal-like traits that mean they can be trusted. The way we trust however, is never blind, and there are good reasons to remain vigilant towards AI. Instead of trying to promote trustworthy AI, interested communities should work on promoting the right amount of political, practical and epistemic vigilance toward these new technologies.

The registration of the talk is available here.

29.01.2021 17:00 CET Jeff Behrend (Harvard University), John Basl (Northeastern University), David Gray Grant (UTSA) 

What We Owe to Decision Subjects: Beyond Transparency and Explanation in Automated Decision-Making

Moral concern with the use of “black box” systems in high-stakes decision-making contexts has largely centered around transparency: what it is, whether it can be secured in automated systems, and what to do if it cannot. We argue that centering transparency in the moral evaluation of automated decision-making is problematic, and potentially obscures rather than illuminates what is of central more importance. By beginning with a broader look at what we owe to decision subjects generally, we are able to distinguish two kinds of consideration that they are owed: evidential and moral. Giving due consideration of each kind sometimes requires that a system be transparent, but both the kind and degree of transparency depend on the fundamental normative considerations at play in a given context. Grounding our moral appraisal at that level, rather than beginning with transparency and reasoning outward from it, offers a more promising path forward.

The registration of the talk is available here.

04.02.2021 17:00 CET Adriano Fabris (University of Pisa) 

L’essere umano e lo specchio delle macchine: etica dell’AI

Nel mio intervento intendo approfondire alcuni aspetti della relazione fra l’essere umano e i dispositivi dotati di AI discutendo soprattutto i processi di mimesi che vengono messi in opera in questa relazione. In particolare studierò il reciproco rispecchiamento, ovvero la mutua imitazione, che si sviluppa tra queste due tipologie di soggetti, umani e artificiali. Emergerà la necessità di evitare alcune trappole del linguaggio comune e di ripensare, insieme alla nozione di “agire”, anche la stessa concezione dell’etica, ampliandola rispetto alla concezione tradizionale. 

09.04.2021 17:00 CET Natalie Gold (London School of Economics and Political Science) 

      Why nudge?

Many classic nudges aim to improve people’s own welfare by influencing their choices without imposing material costs on them. In these situations, people are often taking a short-term decision that is not in their long-term interests and the nudge is towards their long-term interests. Thaler and Sunnstein argue that the policy-maker is justified to intervene on the grounds of ‘Libertarian Paternalism’. I re-think why intervention is justified by starting with the individual agent’s justification for resisting temptation. There is a longstanding debate in decision theory about how and why a rational agent can themself make a decision that is in their long-term interests. I show how we can solve this problem, by using a model with multiple levels of agency, and allowing that timeslices can think of themselves either as a timeslice (and rationally give into temptation) or as a ‘team over time’ (and rationally resist temptation). I consider the normative pressures that can lead decision-makers to promote their own long-term welfare and I argue that some of these can also provide a justification for policy-makers to do likewise, one based on the value of pursuing long term projects, and on positive and republican freedom, rather than a negative libertarian freedom. 

The registration of the talk is available here.

17.06.2021 17:00 CET Fiorella Battaglia (LMU, Munich) 

Predictive Algorithms and Epistemic Injustice

It is well acknowledged that decision support systems hiding their internal logic to the user constitute both technical and ethical issues. It is less acknowledged that predictive decision support systems guessing propositional attitudes of individuals might undermine human’s first-person authority. It is a matter of the subject’s being wronged in their capacity as a knower, and thus it is an issue of epistemic injustice arising from the introduction of decision systems in almost every domain of our social interactions. The aim of this talk is to broaden the concept of epistemic injustice and to apply it to the debate on the ethics of AI with a view to ensuring a comprehensive assessment of these new technologies. The evolution of the concept of epistemic injustice in this field is a condition for accurately addressing the ethical assessment of predictive models. Furthermore, I will argue that it is also useful for the machine-learning and data-mining communities that those questions do not remain unaddressed.

  The registration of the talk is available here.

17.03.2022 16:00 CET Marcello Ienca (ETH Zurich - D-HEST

Etica all'intersezione tra intelligenza artificiale e naturale

22.04.2022 17:00 CET Patricia Mindus (Uppsala University

What Rome Teaches Us about the Ethics of AI

20.05.2022 15:00 CET Adina Roskies (Dartmouth College

Free Will and the Readiness Potential

  The registration of the talk is available here.

This cycle of events is part of the PRIN 2018-2020 

Philosophy of Habits 2021-2022 (concluded)

Organizers: Sofia Bonicalzi (Roma Tre), Mario De Caro (Roma Tre & Tufts), Marco Piazza (Roma Tre), Sofia Sandreschi De Robertis (Roma Tre)

23.02.2022 17:00 CET 

Guido Baggio (Università Roma Tre) 

Habit and Instinct: Lloyd Morgan e l'emergere della coscienza

Innanzitutto intendo esporre le idee di Morgan contenute nel suo Habit and Instinct del 1896. A quel tempo Morgan si stava occupando del rapporto tra gli aspetti ereditari genetici e il ruolo che il comportamento gioca nella variazione di tali aspetti e stava sviluppando la sua osservazione dei tratti comportamentali di diversi tipi di animali che prefiguravano i comportamenti di organismi superiori. In Habit and Instinct, Morgan sostiene la tesi secondo la quale la relazione tra evoluzione organica e mentale si basa sull’interazione tra istinti congeniti e habit ereditati. Tenendo conto dei suoi lavori di quel periodo sull’evoluzione organica e mentale (The Law of Psychogenesis e Mental Evolution. An Old Speculation in a New Light), evidenzierò, inoltre, come alcune idee di Morgan si intreccino necessariamente con le riflessioni sulle emozioni dei pragmatisti James, Dewey e Mead.

Roberta Dreon (Ca' Foscari) 

John Dewey e Conwy Lloyd Morgan sugli abiti. Elementi per un confronto

Intendo proporre un confronto tra la concezione "ecologica" degli abiti di Dewey e quella sviluppata da Conwy Lloyd Morgan nel suo Habit and Instinct del 1896. Sebbene il filosofo e lo psicologo comparatista condividessero un approccio naturalistico nei confronti degli abiti, basata sulla tesi di una continuità di fondo tra comportamenti umani e animali, ovvero su una concezione deflazionista della distinzione tra istinti e abiti, alcune differenze importanti tra i due autori appaiono importanti sia sul piano storico che per il contributo che se ne deriva per il dibattito attuale sul tema.

Denise Vincenti (Università degli Studi Milano-Bicocca) 

L'abitudine come dinamica di costruzione dell'identità: William James e la riflessione filosofica francese

Il mio intervento prenderà avvio dalla riflessione di William James sull'abitudine, presentata nell'articolo del 1887 e poi confluita, con qualche integrazione, nei Principles of psychology del 1890. L'intento è non solo di offrire un quadro della proposta jamesiana sul tema, ma di indagare possibili contatti e debiti nei confronti della tradizione francese sull'abitudine. Come cercherò di mostrare, la descrizione jamesiana dell'abitudine, benché spesso considerata il punto di avvio di un'intensa stagione di studi sull'argomento, affonda in realtà le radici in un contesto teorico diverso da quello statunitense e ancora fortemente influenzato dalle posizioni filosofiche sul problema dell'io e della coscienza. Punto di confluenza di entrambe le tradizioni è infatti la messa a fuoco del rapporto tra abitudine e costruzione dell'identità personale.

Chair: Sofia Sandreschi De Robertis (Università Roma Tre)

The registration of the talks is available here.

09.03.2022 17:00 CET 

Federico Bellini (Università Cattolica S. Cuore, Milano)

Life and Habit di Samuel Butler fra evoluzionismo e letteratura

Life and Habit (1878) di Samuel Butler rappresenta un caso singolare nel panorama della riflessione ottocentesca sull'abitudine. Scritto in aperta polemica con le teorie darwiniane da parte del più idiosincratico degli scrittori vittoriani, il saggio propone una visione radicale dell’abitudine quale principio essenziale della vita che trascende la dimensione dell’identità individuale imponendone un ripensamento. Tale idea, accolta freddamente al momento della pubblicazione del testo, venne ripresa con entusiasmo all’inizio del Novecento, tanto in campo filosofico quanto letterario.

Sofia Sandreschi de Robertis (Università Roma Tre)

Da Spinoza a Proust. L’abitudine e i suoi molteplici effetti

Il concetto di abitudine, nella storia della filosofia occidentale, non è soltanto oggetto di riflessione esplicita, ma attraversa in modo più o meno silenzioso il pensiero di molti autori, fra cui Spinoza e Proust. L’abitudine ricopre un ruolo determinante tanto nella dinamica affettiva e conoscitiva descritta nell’Etica quanto nell’economia narrativa e teorica di À la recherche du temps perdu. Posta all’incrocio fra memoria e immaginazione, mostra in entrambi i casi, grazie a una stretta connessione con l’associazione di idee, la varietà dei propri effetti.

Simone Bernardi Della Rosa  (Università di Milano)

Hexis, una storia dei tre modi dell'essere

La dialettica tra i modi dell'essere e le modalità di potenza, atto, e ciò che ne permette il passaggio, ovvero l'abitudine, rappresenta un nodo cruciale nella filosofia dell'abitudine di Peirce e non solo. Le riflessioni attorno alla Filosofia Prima costruiscono la struttura che influenza gli altri ambiti di indagine, da quello epistemologico a quello etico. Analizzando  la proposta peirceana e mettendola a confronto con altri pensatori classici e contemporanei, metterò in evidenza che la storia stessa della hexis consiste nella storia di questo terzo modo dell'essere, a cui la modernità non ha prestato sufficiente attenzione.

Chair: Marco Piazza (Università Roma Tre)

The registration of the talks is available here.

30.03.2022 17:00 CET 

Fausto Caruana (University of Parma)

Habits, 4E Cognition e Neuroscienze Cognitive

La presentazione mostrerà la connessione tra la nozione di abitudine promossa dagli autori del pragmatismo americano (Caruana & Testa 2021) e il dibattito nelle neuroscienze cognitive relativo alla teoria dell'embodied cognition.

Italo Testa (University of Parma)

Habits, 4E Cognition e Teoria Sociale 

Nell’intervento ricostruirò alcuni aspetti della rilevanza della nozione di abitudine per la teoria sociale, muovendo da una concezione (Caruana & Testa 2021) ispirata insieme dal pragmatismo classico e dall’embodied cognition.

The registration of the talk is available here.

Alessandra Aloisi (University of Oxford)

Inconscio differenziale 

Inizierò ponendo una domanda metodologica su che cosa significa far interagire tra loro saperi differenti – quali la filosofia, la letteratura e la scienza – attorno a tematiche comuni, come quelle dell’abitudine o dell’inconscio.  Dopo questa premessa iniziale, passerò a considerare, in qualità di esempio, la questione dell’inconscio e, più in particolare, di quello che Gilles Deleuze ha chiamato “inconscio differenziale”. Questa definizione, impiegata a proposito di Leibniz, può illuminare alcuni aspetti del pensiero di Maine de Biran.

Chair: Marco Piazza (Università Roma Tre)

13.04.2022 17:00 CET

Rossella Fabbrichesi (Università degli Studi di Milano)

Charles S. Peirce: from Interpretant to Habit, from Semiotics to Pragmatism 

The notion of habit is crucial in the thought of C. S. Peirce. It is crucial because habits are at the edge of phenomenological, semiotic, pragmatistic, as well as of metaphysical and scientific analyses. The meaning of a concept, its Final Logical Interpretant, says in fact Peirce, is a habit of response. Starting from these seminal conceptions, I will analyze the link between the final pragmaticistic maxim and its semiotic roots.

Catherine Dromelet (University of Antwerpen)

Une finalité dans la sélection naturelle des habitudes morales? Le panthéisme de Dumont

Dans son projet de philosophie scientifique, Dumont présente une théorie des habitudes morales faisant intervenir entre autres l'utilitarisme et le darwinisme. A la lumière du panthéisme métaphysique sous-jacent à sa pensée, je propose d'examiner la tension qui émerge entre la finalité de la morale et le hasard de la sélection naturelle des habitudes.

Mark Sinclair (University of Roehampton). 

Tendency vs. plasticity in habit

William James is often credited as being the first to promote an idea of neural ‘plasticity’ as an explanation of habit. James, however, borrows much of his neurological argument about habit from the work of Leon Dumont, who attempts to dispense with a notion of tendency in habit as advanced by many thinkers earlier in the nineteenth century. In this paper, I argue that Dumont’s arguments in this regard are inadequate, that habit is nothing without tendency, and that notions of plasticity in habit elide a more fundamental truth.

Chair: Sofia Bonicalzi (Università Roma Tre)

The registration of the talks is available here.

Agency and the World (ongoing)

Organizers: Sofia Bonicalzi (Roma Tre), Mario De Caro (Roma Tre & Tufts), Fiona Ellis (University of Roehampton), Benedetta Giovanola (Macerata & Tufts)

10.02.2021 17:00 CET Philip Kitcher (Columbia University)

On Moral Progress

The registration of the talk is available here.

12.02.2021 17:00 CET Robert Audi (University of Notre Dame & the ACU)

Action, Manner, and Motive: Two Dimensions of Moral Conduct

Philosophical literature in normative ethics has often concentrated on (1) what we should do—what acts we should perform (as is central for Mill’s utilitarianism)—or (2) the role of motivation in appraising agents and actions (as is important in Kant’s ethics).  Far less philosophical attention has been paid to a third dimension of human behavior: the manner in which actions are performed.  The manner of an action can be morally right or wrong, an object of intention, and a kind of behavior for a reason. This presentation will first explore the metaphysics of manners of action, argue that they do not reduce to kinds of actions, and illustrate how they are morally important.  It will then explore whether motivation is parallel to manner in being (apparently) a higher-order property of action. Is it true that, just as one can, at will, do certain deeds in a particular manner, one can, at will, do certain things for a particular reason?  This question is crucial for understanding ethics.  Kant, for instance, denies moral worth even to right acts when they are performed for the wrong kind of reason. Should he be read, then, as holding that our basic obligation is not just to fulfill our obligations but to fulfill them for the right reason(s)?

26.02.2021 17:00 CET Daniel Dennett (Tufts University)

The Role of Consciousness in Self-Control

The registration of the talk is available here.

26.03.2021 17:00 CEST John Cottingham (University of Reading)

Which Naturalism?

The ‘naturalizing’ agenda that dominates contemporary secularist philosophy is often presented in opposition to the outlook of traditional theism. But a look at the philosophical history of the terms ‘nature’ and ‘natural’ reveals a radical discontinuity between how these terms are currently understood and how they were understood in the past. The modern ‘naturalist’, in insisting that all phenomena should be brought within the domain of the natural, is advancing a thesis that many classical, medieval and early-modern philosophers and theologians would have regarded as pretty much self-evident. What has changed is not that there is a new determination to include within the natural domain what was previous excluded from it, but rather that there has been a radical shift in how the natural domain is to be understood. This paper will argue that the philosophically interesting question in this area is not whether or not we should be naturalists, but which of two naturalisms we should adopt: secular naturalism, with its neutralist conception of the domain of nature in general and of our own human nature in particular, or theistic naturalism, according to which both the natural world and our own nature bear the stamp of the divine. Perhaps surprisingly, it turns out the former (secularist) view is vulnerable to serious difficulties, on both the epistemic and the moral fronts. 


1. The shifting concept of the natural

2. Nature and the supernatural

3. Enframing

4. Human nature

5. Conclusion: so which naturalism?

The registration of the talk is available here.

23.04.2021 17:00 CEST Fiona Ellis (University of Roehampton, London)

Desire and the Meaning of Life

I offer an approach to the problem of life’s meaning which poses a radical challenge to some of the familiar terms of this debate. First, I defend an expansive form of naturalism which involves a rejection of the common assumption that naturalism and theism are logically incompatible and offers a framework from which to rethink some of the central concepts operative in discussions of life’s meaning. Second, I defend a ‘desire solution’ to the problem of life’s meaning. My initial inspiration is Richard Taylor’s version of such a position as articulated in his book Good and Evil. I argue that this solution is best articulated from within an expansive naturalist framework, raise some doubts about Taylor’s metaphysics, and make a connection with the Nietzschean problem of nihilism. 

The registration of the talk is available here.

30.04.2021 17:00 CEST Sofia Miguens (Universidade do Porto)

The Human Face of Naturalism - Putnam and Diamond on religious belief and the ‘gulfs between us’

Hilary Putnam and Cora Diamond both wrote on Wittgenstein’s Three Lectures on Religious Belief. They did it quite differently; my ultimate aim in this talk is to explore such difference. Putnam’s view of religion is largely a view of ethical life; I look thus into his writings on ethics and his proposals to face the relativist menace therein. Still, in his incursions into philosophy of religion, describing religious experience through authors such as Rosenzweig, Buber, or Levinas, Putnam deals with what Diamond calls, after Wittgenstein, ‘the gulfs between us’. Such gulfs, and the threat of relativism they bring, need to be accounted for. With that purpose in mind I complement Putnam’s reading of the Three Lectures with Diamond’s own reading.

The registration of the talk is available here.

13.09.2022 17:00 CEST Akeel Bilgrami (Columbia University)

Value and Judgement in the Humanities: A Philosophical Account

In his lecture, Akeel Bilgrami, will first give an argument for realism about values, the view that values are properties of the world and not merely states of mind projected onto the world.  He will then explore the nature of moral and aesthetic values and make some claims about the role of value and judgement and experience in the humanities.

The registration of the talk is available here.

15.02.2023 17:00 CEST Lubomira Radoilska (University of Kent)

Moral competence and mental disorder

The epistemic condition on moral responsibility is hotly contested. The status of moral ignorance is a case in point: at times, it seems to provide at least partial excuse, if not full exculpation; at others, however, it is the very object, for which a person is called to account. In this paper, I explore the notion of moral competence as a heuristic device for advancing our understanding of the epistemic condition. In particular, I critically examine a standard assumption, according to which whenever a mental disorder impacts moral competence, it decreases its scope or precision. In close conversation with the memoir literatures on bipolar disorder, autism and schizophrenia, I argue that moral competence may also be affected by what looks like increases in scope or precision; moreover, neither impact – decrease or increase – necessarily undermines moral competence in and of itself; oftentimes, either could enhance it in a reliable way. Finally, by critically revisiting the ecological or scaffolding approach to moral responsibility, I show that moral competence is best understood as practical knowing right from wrong embedded in daily routines and habits, and irreducible to propositional understanding or intellectual skills.

Link to participate here.

This cycle of events is part of the PRIN 2018-2020

Four Seminars on Spirituality and Experience 2022 (concluded)

Organizers: Mario De Caro (Roma Tre & Tufts), Fiona Ellis (University of Roehampton)

The meetings are co-organized by the Centre for Practical Philosophy, Theology and Religion, University of Roehampton/Università Roma Tre

10.03.2022 17:30 GMT David McPherson (Creighton University

Spiritual Alienation: What is it? How can we overcome it?

Link to participate here. Meeting ID: 880 7427 1987 Passcode: 313196

24.03.2022 17:30 GMT Fiona Ellis (University of Roehampton)

A Metaphysics of Spiritual Experience

Link to participate here. Meeting ID: 859 9038 6887 Passcode: 254535

25.04.2022 17:30 BST John Cottingham (University of Reading

Spiritual Experience: Its Scope, Its Phenomenology, and Its Source

Link to participate here. Meeting ID: 849 0458 1671 Passcode: 616145

31.05.2022 17:30 BST Neil Williams (University of Roehampton

Religious Belief as a Vague Hypothesis: A Classical Pragmatist Account

  Link to participate here. Meeting ID: 830 4335 0795 Passcode: 620107

This cycle of events is part of the PRIN 2018-2020 

Dentro il giudizio. Razionalità, capacità, identità. Nuove frontiere della responsabilità giuridica 2022-2023 (ongoing)

Organizers: Antonio Carratta (Roma Tre), Mario De Caro (Roma Tre & Tufts), Giorgio Pino (Roma Tre). Segreteria organizzativa: Matija Žgur (

13.3.2023 16:00 CET Luigi Ferrajoli 

3.4.2023 16:00 CET Pietro Pietrini (IMT Lucca)

5.5.2023 16:00 CET  Roberto Giovanni Conti (Corte di Cassazione) 

Dentro il giudizio. Razionalità, capacità, identità. Nuove frontiere della responsabilità giuridica 2021-2022 (concluded)

Organizers: Antonio Carratta (Roma Tre), Mario De Caro (Roma Tre & Tufts), Giorgio Pino (Roma Tre). Segreteria organizzativa: Matija Žgur (

31.03.2022 17:00 CET 

Daniele Piva (Università Roma Tre), Il ruolo delle emozioni nel diritto penale; Massimo Reichlin (Università Vita-Salute San Raffaele), Emozioni e processi riflessivi nei giudizi     morali

21.04.2022 17:00 CET 

Sofia Bonicalzi (Università Roma Tre), Discrezionalità del giudizio, bias cognitivi e senso di giustizia; Mario De Caro (Roma Tre & Tufts), Autonomia e responsabilità

05.05.2022 17:00 CET  

Andrea Lavazza (Centro Universitario Internazionale), Scienze cognitive e responsabilità penaleLorenzo Milazzo (Università di Pisa), Colpevoli “per finta”? Qualche considerazione su “principio di retribuzione” e responsabilità penale

19.05.2022 17:00 CET 

Mirzia Bianca (Sapienza Università di Roma), L’identità digitale; Marta Infantino (Università di Trieste), Responsabilità da danno algoritmico

This cycle of events is part of the PRIN 2018-2020 

Philosophy and Music 2020-2021 (concluded)

Organizers: Mario De Caro (Roma Tre & Tufts), Valentina Deriu (Roma Tre), Francesco Ferretti (Roma Tre), Lisa Giombini (Roma Tre), Chiara Palazzolo (Roma Tre)

Here is a flyer with the program and links to participate in the webinar.

05.03.2021 17:00 CET Alessandro Ansani (Sapienza Università di Roma) e Isabella Poggi (Roma Tre)

Musica e (non solo) emozioni: il valore narrativo della colonna sonora

The registration of the talk is available here.

12.03.2021 17:00 CET Jerrold Levinson (University of Maryland) 

Musical Sublime

The registration of the talk is available here.

16.04.2021 17:00 CEST Jane O'Dea (University of Lethbridge) 

Ethical Challenges in Musical Performance

The registration of the talk is available here.

30.04.2021 17:00 CEST Alice Mado Proverbio (Università di Milano Bicocca) 

Neuroestetica: basi biologiche delle sensazioni emotive in musica

Neuroaesthetics is an interdisciplinary approach aiming at understanding the neural bases of aesthetical experience from a biological and psychological point of view. Neuroscientists have shown that listening to different types of tonal and atonal music may modulate differently psychological mood and physiological responses associated with the induced emotions. We will describe neuroscientific studies performed in composers, musicians and naïve listeners, with behavioral and neuroimaging techniques, aiming at understanding whether, besides personal taste, culture and musical expertise, some intrinsic harmonic or melodic properties might be identified in the architecture of a piece, able to interact with innate neurobiological structures of the brain in a predictive and pretty universal manner.

The registration of the talk is available here.

21.05.2021 17:00 CEST Julian Dodd (University of Leeds) 

Authenticities in Western Classical Music

In this talk I outline the position taken in my recent Being True to Works of Music (OUP, 2020). The topic is the nature of the norms of authenticity governing our practice of performing works of Western classical music, and the position elaborated and defended is as follows. This practice of work performance is governed by two such authenticity norms: score compliance authenticity (accurately rendering the work's score into sound); and interpretive authenticity (offering a performative interpretation of the work that evinces a penetrating, insightful or profound understanding of it). Both of these varieties of authenticity are valued for their own sakes, thereby placing them in a more rarefied normative space to that inhabited by other performance values. And yet it is interpretive authenticity which is the fundamental norm of the practice – its constitutive norm or standard – and which grounds the desirability of score compliance.

The registration of the talk is available here.

11.06.2021 17:00 CEST Luca Aversano (Roma Tre) 

Le prassi esecutive tra musicologia e filosofia dell'interpretazione

Gli studi musicologici moderni, nati nella seconda metà del XIX secolo, hanno inizialmente e per lungo tempo prestato scarsa attenzione alle pratiche esecutive. Soltanto di recente la dimensione performativa ha incominciato a ricevere maggiore attenzione da parte dei musicologi, tanto che, in particolare in Italia, le opere di riflessione su questo importante aspetto della cultura musicale sono state scritte da autori che provenivano essenzialmente dall'ambito filosofico. A partire da questi elementi storici, l'intervento s'incentra sul complesso rapporto tra prassi esecutiva, prospettiva musicologica e filosofia dell'interpretazione, con l'obiettivo di dimostrare l'assoluta interdipendenza dei diversi approcci. Non è cioè possibile affrontare le problematiche della prassi esecutiva sulla base di un punto di vista univoco, sia esso tecnico-performativo, sia esso teorico-filosofico, sia esso storico-linguistico.

The registration of the talk is available here.

Philosophy and Music 2021-2022 (ongoing)

Organizers: Mario De Caro (Roma Tre & Tufts), Lisa Giombini (Roma Tre), Chiara Palazzolo (Roma Tre)

Here is a flyer with the program and links to participate in the webinar.

10.12.2021 18:00 CEST James O. Young (University of Victoria, Canada)

Evaluating the Ethos Theory of Music 

The view that music can have a positive or negative effect on a person’s character has been defended throughout the history of philosophy. Listening to some sorts of music, many philosophers have believed, can make people more virtuous (or moral) while listening to other sorts of music can make people less virtuous (or moral). This is known as the ethos theory, from the Greek word for character. This paper analyses some versions of the ethos theory and identifies one version that has promise. Unfortunately, the available empirical studies fail to provide adequate evidence for this version of the ethos theory. This paper proposes a research programme that could provide the required evidence.

The talk is available here.

25.02.2022 18:00 CEST Alessandro Arbo (Université de Strasbourg, France)

L'identità delle opere musicali fra oralità, scrittura e fonografia.

Dopo aver tormentato alcune generazioni di studiosi, il problema dell’identità delle opere musicali sembra oggi un po’ fuori moda. In un quadro caratterizzato da un interesse crescente per gli aspetti dinamici e processuali della creazione musicale, le ontologie formulate negli anni Ottanta possono apparirci in effetti come delle applicazioni troppo frettolose di una metafisica che riconosceva il suo modello privilegiato (se non esclusivo) nei patrimoni della musica scritta. E tuttavia questi cambiamenti non ci sembrano poter compromettere la centralità del problema dell’identità delle opere e, più in generale, degli oggetti musicali. In questo breve contributo vorrei mostrarvi perché e in che senso conviene continuare a rilanciare questo problema, mettendone se possibile a fuoco il significato e la portata teorica alla luce di uno sguardo più aperto alla molteplicità dei dispositivi che popolano il mondo musicale di ieri e di oggi. 

The talk is available here. 

25.03.2022 17:00 CEST Matteo Ravasio (Peking University, China)

Improvisational Mistakes

In this talk, I discuss mistakes in improvised musical performance. In improvised music, and particularly so in jazz, musicians and critics are willing to tolerate mistakes, slips, and other accidents. In fact, such mishaps may even be considered part of what makes an improvised performance interesting and valuable. Is there a performance ideal that is specific to improvised performance, and how do mistakes fit into such performance norms? I discuss some possible answers to this question, focusing on Andy Hamilton’s idea that an “aesthetics of imperfection” underscores improvised performance. I distinguish between two kinds of improvisational mistakes. The distinction is grounded in the different realization of the performer’s intentions with respect to the musical phrase or passage she intends to play. I argue that this distinction allows us to make some progress in understanding the value of mistakes in improvised performance.

The registration of the talk is available here. 

29.04.2022 17:00 CEST Hanne Appelqvist (University of Helsinki, Finland)

Hanslick on the Purposiveness of Musical Form 

In mainstream analytic philosophy of music, the key phrase of Eduard Hanslick’s influential essay Vom Musikalisch-Schönen (1854), the “musically beautiful”, is often treated as either an evaluative or a classificatory term. The first reading takes Hanslick to argue for what counts as good music, the second reading assumes that his project is to define the essence of music. Both readings assume that Hanslick’s project is to ascribe certain properties to music, either as normative requirements or as a means of distinguishing music from non-music. This paper argues that Hanslick’s notion of the musically beautiful is intended in neither sense. Instead, in spite of his emphasis on the formal features of music, Hanslick’s argument relies on a Kantian conception of beauty and, more generally, on Kant’s philosophical method that turns philosophical investigation away from objects of experience understood independently of experience to the formal conditions of judgments made of those objects. This is to say that Hanslick’s musical formalism should be read as belonging to the tradition of transcendental idealism, understood (broadly) as the view according to which the formal conditions of different kinds of judgments are, in part, constitutive of the forms of the judged objects. 

The talk is available here. 

20.05.2022 17:00 CEST Andrew Kania (Trinity University, US)

The Moral Evaluation of Instrumental Music 

The past 25 years have seen vigorous debate in philosophy of the arts about the relationship between ethical and artistic value. Very little of that material makes more than passing mention of music. The consensus view seems to be that the relevant ethical value depends on an artwork’s expression of an attitude toward an object, and that “pure” music, at least (i.e., instrumental music, or “music alone”), is an abstract art, lacking the representational resources to represent the right kind of object (and perhaps the right kind of attitude). The question of the relationship between such music’s ethical and artistic value is thus moot. I aim to dig a little deeper, distinguishing various senses of “music” necessary for formulating this argument that complicate drawing its simple conclusion so swiftly.

The talk is available here.

Workshop: Authenticity in Musical Performance 

23.09.2022 11:00 CEST Andrew Kania (Trinity University, US)

Musical Works: Their Meaning and Authentic Performance

The talk is available here 

23.09.2022 15.00 CEST Julian Dodd (University of Leeds, UK) & Nemesio Garcia Puy (University of Murcia, Spain)

On What the Music Demands:  Authenticities in Classical Work Performance

The talk is available here

Dentro il giudizio. Dialoghi di diritto e filosofia 2021 (concluded)

Organizers: Antonio Carratta (Roma Tre), Mario De Caro (Roma Tre & Tufts), Giorgio Pino (Roma Tre)

Here is a flyer with the program and links to participate in the webinars. For information, please contact Matija Žgur and Arianna Colonna at

24.03.2021 17:00 CET Giovanni Tuzet (Università Bocconi, Milano) 


Link to participate here

14.04.2021 17:00 CEST Silvia Zorzetto (Università degli Studi di Milano) 

Ragionamento giuridico e ragionevolezza

Link to participate here

28.04.2021 17:00 CEST Marco Brigaglia (Università degli Studi di Palermo) 

La psicologia del giudizio

Link to participate here

19.05.2021 17:00 CEST Gaetano Carlizzi (Magistrato, Università degli Studi Suor Orsola Benincasa) 

 Il ragionamento probatorio

Link to participate here

09.06.2021 17:00 CEST Giorgio Resta (Università degli Studi Roma Tre) 

Algoritmi e decisione giuridica

Link to participate here

Tra etica e diritto: la dimensione giuridica nell'etica di Aristotele 2021 (concluded)

Organizers: Mario De Caro (Roma Tre & Tufts), Flavia Farina (Roma Tre)

10.06.2021 17:00 CET Bruno Centrone (Università degli Studi di Pisa

Turpe ma necessario: il codice penale delle Leggi di Platone

24.09.2021 17:00 CEST Francesca Masi (Università Ca’ Foscari

La carica rivela l’uomo : la nozione aristotelica di giustizia tra etica e politica

30.09.2021 17:00 CEST Pierre-Marie Morel (Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne

Legge esterna e legge interna. Democrito e la giustizia

08.10.2021 17:00 CEST Javier Echeñique (Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez

Aristotle on compulsive desires

05.11.2021 17:00 CEST Mario De Caro (Università degli Studi Roma Tre & Tufts) 

Etica e diritto, duemilaquattrocento anni dopo Aristotele

Machiavelli (December 2023)

December 2021 Inaugural Conference of the International Machiavelli Society

For more info, visit

Fear and Disruption of Habits During the Global Pandemic 2020 (concluded)

Organizers: Corinna Guerra (LabEx, Hastec, Paris), Marco Piazza (Roma Tre)

December 16th and 17th, 2020. Here is a flyer with the program and links to participate in the webinar.

Information: Corinna Guerra (

The initiative is part of the research activity of:

- “The Public Dynamics of Fear and Inclusive Citizenship” Project, funded by the Roma Tre University under Action 4: Experimental action to finance innovative and interdisciplinary research projects

- National PRIN Project “New challenges for applied ethics” coordinated by Mario De Caro (Roma Tre University)

Terra e Cieli: astrologia, etica e politica tra umanesimo e rivoluzione scientifica 2020 (concluded)

Organizzatori: Antonio Clericuzio (Roma Tre) e Mario De Caro (Roma Tre & Tufts)

25.11.2020 17:00 Pietro Daniel Omodeo (Ca' Foscari, Venezia) 

      Astrologia e fisica cartesiana - link per partecipare

2.12.2020 17:00 Guido Giglioni (Università di Macerata) 

     Marsilio Ficino, ovvero come il prete-astrologo contribuisce alla "vita e prosperità pubblica" - link al video dell'evento

16.12.2020 17:00 Giuliano Mori (Università Statale di Milano) 

      Il De libero arbitrio di Lorenzo Valla: Letture quattrocentesche e ipotesi interpretative - link per partecipare

Here is a flyer with the program.