Dr. Pietro Snider


Pietro Snider studied Philosophy, Film History and Aesthetics, and English Literature (BA, University of Lausanne, 2009) before obtaining an MLitt (University of St Andrews and University of Stirling, 2010) and a PhD in Philosophy (Dr. phil. des., University of Basel, 2015). His doctoral thesis "Causation and the Self-Constitution of the Conscious Mind", supervised by professors Markus Wild (Basel) and Michael Esfeld (Lausanne), focused on the biological function of phenomenal consciousness. Pietro Snider has worked as assistant and Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) researcher at the university of Lausanne between 2010 and 2012, as SNSF researcher at the universities of Fribourg and Basel between 2012 and 2014, and as teaching assistent in Theoretical Philosophy in Basel in 2014-15. During this time he has been guest researcher at the Institut für Philosophie II of the Ruhr-Universität Bochum under the supervision of Prof. Albert Newen (autumn 2012), visiting scholar at the Philosophy Department of Duke University under the supervision of Prof. Karen Neander (February 2014), and visiting student at the Philosophy Department of NYU under the supervision of Prof. Ned Block (spring 2014). Pietro Snider has obtained a 2015-16 research grant by the Research Fund of the University of Basel (Forschungsfonds) and has been nominated amongst the best 5 candidates for the University of Basel Teaching Excellence Award 2016 in the category "Top Aktuell".  From September 2016 to January 2017 he worked as junior lecturer and scientific collaborator in Basel. Pietro Snider currently works at the direction of the Department of education, culture and sport of canton Ticino as personal collaborator of the State Councilor, and teaches philosophy at the Istituto di Studi Filosofici in Lugano.

Pietro Snider studierte Philosophie, Filmwissenschaften sowie englische Literaturwissenschaft an der Universität Lausanne im Bachelor (2009), absolvierte sein Masterstudium an den Universitäten St Andrews und Stirling (2010), und absolvierte seine Promotion in Philosophie an der Universität Basel (2015). In seiner Dissertation «Causation and the Self-Constitution of the Conscious Mind», die von den Professoren Markus Wild (Basel) und Michael Esfeld (Lausanne) betreut war, beschäftigte er sich mit die Biologische Funktion des Bewusstseins. Pietro Snider arbeitete zwischen 2010 und 2012 als Assistent und SNF-Forscher an der Universität Lausanne, von 2012 bis 2014 als SNF-Forscher an den Universitäten Fribourg und Basel, und in 2014-2015 als Assistent am Lehrstuhl für Theoretische Philosophie der Universität Basel. Während dieser Zeit war er am Institut für Philosophie II der Ruhr-Universität Bochum bei Prof. Albert Newen Gastforscher (Herbst 2012), am Departement für Philosophie der Duke University bei Prof. Karen Neander visiting scholar (Februar 2014), und am Departement für Philosophie der New York University bei Prof. Ned Block visiting student (Frühjahr 2014).

Forschung / Research

Forschungsschwerpunkte / Main Research Areas

Philosophy of Mind - especially Consciousness, Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Biology, Philosophy of Psychology, Philosophy of Neuroscience, Philosophy of Cognitive Science, Metaphysics, Aesthetics.

Résumé / Thesis Outline

In the thesis I advocated a pragmatic explanatory non-reductive naturalistic account of subjectivity compatible with the state of the art in empirical consciousness studies and able to accommodate strongly held intuitions regarding conscious phenomena. I do this by suggesting and adopting a line of approach that diverges from the standard approach to the mind-body problem in contemporary philosophy of mind. I focus on phenomenal consciousness and I try to explain why conscious phenomena exist in the actual world. I call the latter the "Natural Problem of Consciousness". I claim that contingent conscious “mental” phenomena are in fact nothing but subjective biological phenomena – phenomena that some living beings contingently have. I argue that the kind of explanation we need in order to explain the contingent existence of biological phenomena (including consciousness) is a diachronic biological explanation such as one deriving from the theory of evolution by natural selection. I hold that it is a fact that consciousness, in the actual world, has not been selected against. I suggest that the only explanatorily satisfactorily explanation for this is that the very fact of feeling can play (or, at least, can have played) a causal role in the actual natural world. The main challenge posed by the Natural Problem of Consciousness consists then in putting forward a plausible theory suggesting why and how the fact of feeling could increase some beings' biological fitness. I advance an hypothesis in this sense.

Lehre / Teaching

Autumn 2016: David Hume: An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding, BA Proseminar, Universität Basel
Spring 2016: Artificial Intelligence: Theoretical and Ethical Issues, BA Proseminar, Universität Basel
Spring 2015: Introduction to the Philosophy of Mind, BA Proseminar, Universität Basel
Spring 2015: Philosophy and Neuroscience: Classics in Contemporary Consciousness Literature, BA Proseminar, Universität Basel
Spring 2013: La Monadologie de W.G.Leibniz, BA Proseminar, Université de Fribourg (with Prof. Markus Wild)
Spring 2012: Philosophy of the Life Sciences, MA course (SHS program), EPFL/Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (with Dr. Christian Sachse)
Autumn 2011: Philosophy of the Life Sciences, MA course (SHS program), EPFL/Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (with Dr. Christian Sachse)

Publications, talks and other informations

Snider, Pietro (2017): The Natural Problem of Consciousness. In Michael Esfeld, Stephan Hartmann, Albert Newen (eds.), Epistemic Studies: Philosophy of Science, Cognition and Mind, n.36. Berlin: De Gruyter.

Please refer to my updated CV.

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