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September 6-7, 2022: Number of Things - International conference

Giorgio De Chirico, Il Grande Metafisico

The Number of Things

International conference

Venue: Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy

6-7 September 2022

How are objects (and processes) individuated and counted? This question raises important issues from contemporary debates often discussed under headings such as individuation, identity and indeterminism. The conference will address the question from multiple perspectives including metaphysics, the philosophy of science, and the philosophy of physics (and QM in particular), with the aim of creating a dialogue across these differing perspectives.

For further informations: https://pembertonjohn5.wixsite.com/website

Invited chairpersons

Andrea Bottani (Università di Bergamo)

Giorgio Lando (Università degli Studi dell'Aquila)

Francesco Orilia ​(Università di Macerata)

Sara Papic (Università degli Studi di Milano, IT)

Giuliano Torrengo (Università degli Studi di Milano, IT)



Tuesday 6 September

9:00 Meet and Greet

9:15 Michael Esfeld (University of Lausanne, Switzerland) Quantum physics and the metaphysics of objects

10:30 Coffee

Elisa 11:00 Paganini (Università degli Studi di Milano, IT) Where to look for vague existence

12:15 Lunch

13:45 Christian Mariani (Institut Néel, France) Emergent quantum indeterminacy

14:45 Leonard Weiss (University of Sheffield, UK) Hegel on individuation

15:45 Tea

16:15 Massimiliano Carrara (Università di Padova, IT) Is “counting” counting by identity?

17:30 Close

Wednesday 7 September

9:00 Meet and Greet

9:15 Anna Marmodoro (Durham & Oxford, UK) Parts and Number

10:30 Coffee

11:00 Thomas Sattig (University of Tübingen, Germany) Counting and Grounding 

12:15 Lunch

13:45 John Pemberton (LSE, Oxford & Durham, UK) Acting, existence, indeterminism 

15:00 Tea

15:30 Johanna Seibt (Aarhus University, Denmark) Why 'one' and 'the same' is not one and the same 

16:45 Close



Massimiliano Carrara: Is “counting” counting by identity?
In (1996: 440) Ted Sider claims that “part of the meaning of “counting” is counting by identity”. Is it true? If it is true identity is involved in general in quantification and, in particular, it is presupposed in the deductive rules of universal quantification of first order logic (see Bueno 2014:329). Aim of the talk is to discuss these theses. 

Michael Esfeld: Quantum physics and the metaphysics of objects
In this talk, I'll argue for a conservative ontology of objects also in the context of quantum physics: there is a very large, but presumably finite number of point particles that are individuated by the distance relations in which they stand and the change in these relations. These are absolutely discernible individuals, like classical atoms. Relying on the de Broglie-Bohm-Bell quantum theory, I show how one can give an account of quantum physics, including quantum field theory, on this basis that avoids the usual conceptual problems that plague the metaphysics of quantum physics. Hence, whatever reasons people may have to abandon such a conservative metaphysics of objects, quantum physics is per se no such reason.

Anna Marmodoro (Durham & Oxford, UK): Parts and Number

Elisa Paganini (Università Statale Milano, IT): Where to look for vague existence

John Pemberton (LSE, Oxford & Durham, UK): Acting, existence, indeterminism
In this presentation I shall review a wide range of entities we find in the world that folk and / or science take to be concrete things or processes. I will argue that, contrary to mainstream philosophical views, all such entities (except for the elementary ones) are the acting together of their parts. By this I mean that their parts in concert are bringing about mutual changing in such a way that the acting-together is surviving through time. Such surviving acting-together of parts is what these entities are at each stage. Acting is then, I argue, a principle of physical existence. Understanding existence in this way licenses a precise account of the forms of indeterminism associated with the physical beings that we find in our world.

Thomas Sattig (University of Tübingen, Germany): Counting and Grounding

Johanna Seibt (Aarhus University, Denmark): Why ‘one’ and ‘the same’ is not one and the same

​Early career researchers who are either on a PhD program or have been awarded their PhD since January 2019 are encouraged to submit an abstract if interested in being included in the conference program. Two early career speakers will be selected by double blind peer review of the abstracts. Abstracts of 500 words max should be anonymized and submitted via EasyChair by 30 April  2022: https://easychair.org/cfp/TNOT-2022.

This conference will be open to all and will be held in person. 

No advanced registration needed. 

Conference organisers: Anna Marmodoro, Elisa Paganini and John Pemberton - with the assistance of Sara Papic

Contact email: NoTEnquiries@gmail.com

Under the patronage of Università degli Studi di Milano, Dipartimento di Filosofia "Piero Martinetti", SIFA (Italian Society for Analytic Philosophy) and XXVth WCP (World Conference of Philosophy).

07 September 2022
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