The Thomistic Institute has just announced its third annual summer program, with the theme of “Chance and Indeterminacy in the Natural World.” The TI Summer Program website elaborates on this as follows:
What are chance occurrences, and how has indeterminacy factored into the development of the natural world as we know it? The vocabulary of randomness and probability appear throughout the natural sciences and are particularly associated with evolutionary biology and quantum physics, but do all of the sciences understand these notions in the same way? This symposium will bring together leading scientists and philosophers to discuss what chance, randomness, and indeterminacy are, as seen through the lens of various scientific disciplines, and what philosophical implications this might have for our understanding of the physical world and our place in it.
More details and the online application form can be found at the TI website.
I’m honored to be the most junior member of a lineup of invited speakers. The others presenters are Travis Dumsday (University of Edmonton), Michael Gorman (The Catholic University of America), Valerie Plaus (Franciscan University of Steubenville), Peter Ulrickson (The Catholic University of America), Fr. Robert Verrill, O.P. (Baylor University), and Fr. Thomas Joseph White, O.P. (Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, Rome). My talk will be more introductory, focusing on the historical and philosophical elements of the Aristotelian natural philosophical understanding of chance and indeterminism. I’ll bring in a healthy helping of the contributions of the Thomistic interpretation, both from St. Thomas himself and from certain 20th-century Thomists, including Charles De Koninck.