Phinance: Finance, Mathematics & Philosophy - Stage

The ascent of finance caused various reactions ranging from hostility motivated by the idea that finance, being based on the lending of money, is a parasite on the real economy, to euphoria fed by the notion that lending to deserving and innovative businesses results in virtuous economic circles and widespread well-being. The stage will examine finance especially in relation to mathematics and philosophy, and will deal with central issues in stock markets. The stage each year ends up with a conference that features leading figures in the fields.  The workshop comprises debate between four teams made up of students of physics, mathematics, economics and philosophy. These teams have to defend distinct and even conflicting theoretical positions with the help of the selected resources. In order to this, the workshop will employ logic and an adapted version of the rules of the medieval debates (disputatio) to investigate some of the main hypotheses on stock markets. It will aim at building arguments in favor of and against a given hypothesis, at evaluating its consistency, and detecting hidden controversial assumptions, possible fallacies and non sequiturs.

Organisation and info: Emiliano Ippoliti



Machines and Money have changed our world and this change is especially visible today in Finance (Stock Markets).
These technological turns has made finance faster, more global and interconnectedAn activity once run by humans has evolved into a field where machines play a larger and more influential role. The main actors of modern finance are no longer entirely human: they look like 'cyborgs'. A combination of humans and machine, flesh and silicon. Modern finance is transforming faster and faster into the so called “cyborg finance,” or“cy-fi” (see Lin 2013). This workshop will look at various aspects of the relationship between men, money and machines, and the methodological, normative, and etchical impacts of the use of machines and algorithms in finance and stock markets in particular. 


The invention of money produced a great change in society and mankind redefined itself: it cut out the flaws of barter, eased valuation and counting, and enabled trades over long periods and geographical distances.

With the industrial revolution the machines moved from being a simple tool and became a principle for the organization of human activity.

With the information revolution, machines are being used in place of humans to manage finance. What will the consequences be?

This workshop will look at various aspects of the relationship between men, money and machines. The testing point for this relationship is stock market trading so we will look in particular detail at the issues that arise there. Should machines be trusted with our money? What are the practical limits for machines management?  And what are the ethical considerations?

At a more technical level, the workshop will discuss practical and theoretical issues of algo-trading, high frequency trading (FHT), and automatic trading and, in part, Sentiment analysis.

The stage ends up with a conference about machines & money, and the concept and role of innovation, especially technological innovation and the funding of innovatiion.


The stage examines some of the most employed and effective hypotheses put forward to explain the behavior of financial markets. This examination takes a philosophical perspective aiming at investigating the assumptions and the methods used by these hypotheses. Furthermore the workshop will focus on the role of mathematics, and physics, in the modelling and forecast the behavior of stock markets. Specifically, the stage investigates the following four hypotheses:

  1. the efficient markets hypothesis;
  2. the reflexive markets hypothesis;
  3. the financial instability hypothesis;
  4. the financial econophysics hypothesis.

The stage ends up with the conference FMP14 - Finance, Mathematics & Philosophy, 12-13 June 2014.