Department of Philosophy - Epistemology Section
University of Genova, Italy.
Full professor until 2008.
EVANDRO AGAZZI was born in Bergamo (Italy). He completed his studies in Philosophy at the Catholic University of Milan and in Physics at the State University of the same city; he then did postgraduate study and research stays at the Universities of Oxford, Marburg and Münster. He obtained the venia legendi in Philosophy of Science (1963) and in Mathematical Logic (1966), and occupied several teaching positions: at the Department of Mathematics of the University of Genoa (Advanced Geometry, Complementary Mathematics, Mathematical Logic), at the Higher Normal School of Pisa (Symbolic Logic), at the Catholic University of Milan (Philosophy of Science, Mathematical Logic), before and after becoming full professor of Philosophy of Science at the University of Genoa (1970). He also had the chair of Philosophical Anthropology, Philosophy of Nature and Philosophy of Science at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland (1979-1998), and taught as a visiting professor at the Universities of Düsseldorf, Berne, Pittsburgh, Stanford, Geneva, UNAM (Mexico), as well as at other universities for shorter times. At present he is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Genoa and full Professor at the Department of Humanities of the Autonomous Metropolitan University/Campus of Cuajimalpa of Mexico City. He was an invited speaker at many international congresses and conferences, and has given numerous lectures in all continents. He is Doctor honoris causa of the Universities of Cordoba, Santiago del Estero and Cuyo/Mendoza (Argentina), Ricardo Palma of Lima (Peru), Urbino (Italy).
He is President of the International Academy of Philosophy of Science (Brussels), He was President, and is now Honorary President, of the International Federation of the Philosophical Societies (FISP), of the International Institute of Philosophy (Paris), and of several other Academies and learned institutions of different countries. In the past he was (twice) President of the Italian Society of Logic and Philosophy of Science, of the Ligurian Philosophical Association, of the Italian Philosophical Society, of the Swiss Society of Logic and Philosophy of Science, and of many other learned institutions. He was also Treasurer of the International Council for Philosophy and Humanities of UNESCO. He was member of the Italian National Committee for Bioethics and is currently member of the Committee for the Ethics of Research and Bioethics of the Italian National Research Council.
Among the honours he received the most salient are: the prize “Centro di Studi Filosofici di Gallarate” (1962) for his book Introduzione ai problemi dell’assiomatica; the “European Prize Cortina-Ulisse” (1983) and the “Prince of Liechtenstein Prize” (1983) for his book Il bene, il male e la scienza, the “International Prize for Philosophy Salento “ (2004) for his global work.
His publications include more than 70 books, of which he is the author and/or the editor, and amost 1000 papers and articles, including contributions to books, anthologies, encyclopaedias, and journals, apart from many book reviews and newspaper articles. He is the editor of Epistemologia, an Italian journal for the Philosophy of Science, and of Nuova Secondaria, an Italian journal for high school teachers, and is a consulting editor of several international journals such as Erkenntnis, Revue Internationale de Philosophie, Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie, Medicina e Morale, Modern Logic, Kos, Sandhan, Sensus Communis, Argumentos de razón técnica, Anthopos & Iatria, A & P: Anthropology and Philosophy. He has been and is a member of the editorial board of learned dictionaries and encyclopaedias.
Among his works, the following books may be mentioned: Introduzione ai problemi dell'assiomatica, 1961; La logica simbolica, 1964; Temi e problemi di filosofia della fisica, 1969; Le geometrie non euclidee e i fondamenti della geometria (with D. Palladino), 1978; I sistemi fra scienza e filosofia (ed.), 1978; Studi sul problema del significato (ed.), 1979; Modern Logic. A Survey (ed.), 1981; Science et foi. Perspectives nouvelles sur un vieux problème, 1983; Storia delle scienze (ed.), 1984; La filosofia della scienza in Italia nel '900 (ed.), 1986; Weisheit im Technischen, 1986; Philosophie, science, métaphysique, 1987; Probability in the Sciences (ed.), 1988; L'objectivité dans les différentes sciences (ed.), 1988; Filosofia, scienza e verità (with L. Geymonat e F. Minazzi), 1989; Logica filosofica e logica matematica (ed.), 1990; Quale etica per la bioetica? (ed.), 1990; La comparabilité des théories scientifiques (ed.), 1990; Philosophy and the Origin and Evolution of the Universe (ed. with A. Cordero), 1991; The problem of Reductionism in Science (ed.), 1991; Science and sagesse (ed.), 1991; Il bene, il male e la scienza, 1992; Bioetica e persona (ed.), 1993; Cultura scientifica e interdisciplinarità, 1994; Interpretazioni attuali dell'uomo: filosofia, scienza, religione (ed.), 1995; Il tempo nella scienza e nella filosofia (ed.), 1995; Filosofia della natura. Scienza e cosmologia, 1995; Philosophy of Mathematics today (ed. with G. Darvas), 1997; Realism and Quantum Physics (ed.), 1998; Paidéia, verità, educazione, 1999; Advances in the Philosophy of Technology (ed. with H. Lenk), 1999; The Reality of the Unobservable (ed. with M. Pauri), 2000; Life-Interpretation and the Sense of Illness within the Human Condition. Medicine and Philosophy in a Dialogue (ed. with A.T.Tymieniecka), 2001; The Problem of the Unity of Science (ed. with J. Faye), 2001; Complexity and Emergence (ed. with L. Montecucco); Right, Wrong and Science. The Etical Dimensions of the Techno-Scientific Enterprise (edited by C. Dilworth), 2004; Valore e limiti del senso comune (ed.), 2004; Operations and Constructions in Science (ed. with Ch. Thiel), 2006; Epistemology and the Social (ed. with J.Echeverria and A. Gomez), 2008; Science and Values. The Axiological Context of Science (ed. with. F. Minazzi), 2008, Le rivoluzioni scientifiche e il mondo moderno (2008); Relations Between Human Sciences and Natural Sciences (ed. with Giuliano Di Bernardo), 2010. Some of these works have been translated in different languages: French, English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Polish. Hungarian.
His main fields of interest and research have been: general philosophy of science, philosophy of some special sciences (mathematics, physics, social sciences, psychology), logic, systems theory, ethics of science, bioethics, history of science, philosophy of language, metaphysics, philosophical anthropology, pedagogy.
Details. In the first stage of his research he devoted his study to mathematical logic and the foundations of mathematics and developed a philosophical view centered on a sharp criticism of extreme formalism. He then moved to the study of foundational problems in the empirical sciences, at the same time elaborating his own original philosophy of science whose core is an articulated theory of scientific “objectivity” based on a distinction between common sense “things” and scientific “objects”, that are structured set of selected attributes expressing the special “point of view” from which a given science considers reality. These attributes are expressed through specialized “predicates” and the “basic predicates” of an empirical science are equipped with standardized operational criteria of reference that allow for the empirical test of statements. In such a way scientific objectivity has a “weak” sense, according to which it consists in the intersubjective agreement among specialists secured by the use of standardized criteria of referentiality, but also a “strong” sense according to which it consists in the fact of having precise concrete referents, equally attained by means of the same operational criteria. This doctrine has far reaching consequences. It vindicates the legitimacy of “scientific truth”, recognizing that it is “relative” to the actual referents of the scientific theory concerned, and thanks to this fact, advocates a “realist” conception of science, including the admission of the existence also of theoretical (non observable) entities. In addition, this view presents an “analogical” concept of science that does not imply the reduction of scientificity to one single model. The awareness of the “partiality” of the point of view of any science opens the way to the consideration of broader points of view on reality and on science itself, that fully legitimate the rationality of metaphysical inquiry (also regarding the metaphysics of science) as well as the embedding of science into broader contexts of moral, social and political nature. Thanks to an original approach based on general systems theory all these dimensions can be harmonized with a substantial respect of the freedom of science.