CFP: The Insides of Nature Causalities, Causal Processes and Conceptions of Nature

September 10-12, 2018, Universidade Católica Portuguesa Braga

Philosophy of Nature is the branch of philosophy which, out of the dialogue with the various sciences, reflects on our knowledge of Nature (in its various meanings). Although its research object is that of the particular sciences, Philosophy of Nature takes a philosophical-metaphysical perspective, having as a goal to arrive at a comprehensive, interdisciplinary, and harmonic understanding of the different images of Nature – although, not always consistent – associated with the corresponding particular sciences.

A comprehensive understanding of Nature is fundamental for the self-understanding of the human being. It is also crucial for the understanding of the relationship of human beings among themselves and with Nature. A better understanding of these relationships will allow: an improved self-balance and personal fulfillment; the construction of more inclusive societies; an increased adoption of human and ecological styles of life; and a more sustainable interaction with our planet.

The problem of causality within natural phenomena is, nowadays, one of the most significant challenges for the interdisciplinary dialogue between scientists, philosophers and theologians. Since the beginning of the 17th century, the approach to the study of causality has been mainly reductionist (bottom-up), placing it at the level of the elementary objects, constitutive of higher level systems. Contemporary science, however, has disclosed some limitations to that traditional reductionist paradigm, drawing the attention of both philosophers and scientists to another type of causality (top-down) which appears to be present in complex systems, and acting from the wholes to their constituent parts. This new type of causality manifests itself in several scientific areas: physics, chemistry, microbiology, epigenetics, evolutionary biology, physiology, neurosciences/cognitive sciences, psychology, social sciences, and computer and information sciences. Moreover, top-down causality concerns not only each individual science but also the relationship between the various scientific branches. It is complex and multifaceted, and also related to the emergence of contextual complexity throughout the cosmic evolutionary process. It is also highly relevant for the study of the mind, ethics, and religious phenomena.

It is particularly relevant for current research concerning philosophical aspects of causality to address the following questions: how does higher levels causality relates to the lower ones; if, in the various sciences, higher level variables can be obtained through coarse graining of the lower level ones; how to identify levels of causality and emergence in complex structures; whether top-down causality is real or simply an epiphenomenal manifestation of the lower levels; what is the relationship between top-down causality, contextual emergence of complexity, and reductionism (bottom causality), particularly in the context of the so-called “causal closure” of fundamental physics; to which extent does top-down causality prevail in quantum physics.

Conference Fee

  • Professors e researchers: 120 €*
  • SStudents: 70 €*;
  • Students from UCP Braga: 40 €

* 50% discount for participants coming from African and Latin America countries.
The conference fee covers: conference material, conference dinner, coffee breaks. The fee also covers the costs of publication of the selected papers (double blind peer review).

Invited Speakers

Plenary Session 1Explanation and Causal Processes in Nature, Juan Arana (Universidad de Sevilla). Moderator: Álvaro Balsas
Plenary Session 2Top-down Causality in Natural Sciences, Gennaro Auletta (Gregorian University, Rome). Moderator: Bruno Nobre
Plenary Session 3The Limits of Causality, Louis Caruana (Gregorian University, Rome). Moderator: João Carlos Onofre Pinto
Plenary Session 4Living Together in Order to Live Better: Symbiosis and the Origins of Life, Cristina Motta (UFRJ – Rio de Janeiro). Moderator: Antonio Augusto Passos Videira
Round TableThe Human Being as a Causal Agent: the Perspective of the Neurosciences (Alexandre Castro Caldas, Faculdade de Medicina, Lisbon University); The Point of View of the Theory of Knowledge: Perception, Representation and Concept (Antonio Augusto Passos Videira, UERJ, Rio de Janeiro); The Perspective of Ethics (Ana Sofia Carvalho, UCP, Porto); The Perspective of Aesthetics (Yolanda Espiña, FFCS, Braga). Moderator: Artur Galvão
Parallel Sessions: participants are invited to submit an abstract; a group of invited scholars will moderate the sessions.

Program Committee

  • Agustín Udías, SJ (Madrid, Spain)
  • António Luciano Leite Videira (UE, Évora, Portugal)
  • Augusto Soares da Silva (FFCS, Braga, Portugal)
  • Carlos Fiolhais (UC, Coimbra, Portugal)
  • Henrique Leitão (UL, Lisbon, Portugal)
  • Javier Monserrat (UP Comillas, Madrid, Spain)
  • João Ribeiro Mendes (UM, Braga, Portugal)
  • José Manuel Martins Lopes, SJ (FFCS, Braga, Portugal)
  • José Manuel Caamaño (UP Comillas, Madrid, Spain)
  • José Rui da Costa Pinto, SJ (FFCS, Braga, Portugal)
  • José Funes (Universidad Católica de Córdoba, Argentina)
  • Maria Teresa Almeida (UM, Braga, Portugal)
  • Mariusz Tabaczek, OP (TI, Warsaw, Poland)
  • Michael Dodds, OP (DSPT, Berkeley, USA)
  • Nuno Peres (UM, Braga, Portugal)
  • Olival Freire Junior (USP, Sao Paulo Brazil)
  • Osvaldo Pessoa Frota Júnior (USP, Sao Paulo, Brazil)
  • Pablo Rúben Mariconda, (USP, Sao Paulo Brazil)
  • Pedro Lind (Univ. Osnabrueck, Germany)
  • Ricardo Lopes Coelho (UL, Lisbon, Portugal)
  • Sofia Miguens, (UP, Porto, Portugal

Organizing Committee (preliminary)

  • Álvaro Balsas, SJ (FFCS, Braga)
  • António Augusto Passos Videira (UERJ, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
  • Bruno Nobre, SJ (FFCS, Braga)
  • João Carlos Onofre Pinto, SJ (FFCS, Braga)
  • Ana Paula Pinto (FFCS, Braga)

Conference Secretariat

  • Artur Alves
  • Manuela Taveira
  • Orquídea Lago
  • Simão Sá



Faculdade de Filosofia e Ciências Sociais
Praça da Faculdade, nº 1
4710-297 Braga

Phone: +351 252 206 100

GPS coorfinates:
Latitude: 41.5550088
Longitude: -8.4210029

Call for papers

Submission of abstracts will be accepted for individual communications (20 min.) on the following scientific areas:

  • History and Philosophy of Nature;
  • Nature, Philosophy and Metaphysics;
  • Nature and Contemporary Science;
  • Nature, Emergence and Complexity;
  • Nature and Ethics;
  • Nature, Ecology and Contemporary Social Thought;
  • Nature and Conceptions of the Human Being;
  • Nature, Cognitive Sciences, Psychology and Neurosciences;
  • Nature, the Arts, Aesthetics and Literature;
  • Nature and Theology.
  • Nature and sciences of language and comunication.

Conference Languages: Portuguese, Spanish and English

In order to submit a proposal, please fill in the form bellow and send it to the following email: filosofiadanatureza@braga.ucp. The proposals will be evaluated and selected by the Scientific Committee.
The following information should be included:

  • Title
  • Abstract (max.350 words)
  • Scientific Areas
  • Author Name
  • Email
  • Short CV (max. 100 words)


The structure of the abstract should mirror the structure of the communication: 1) aim of the paper; 2) methods of research; 3) conclusions.
Deadline for Submission of abstracts: April 30th
Decisions will be communicated until: June 1st

Deadline: April 30, 2018

Posted: March 28, 2018