The Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at the University of Macau hosted its first session of Philosophy Café on November 18, 2022. Philosophy Café is an occasional meeting organized by the department to create a casual setting for students to discuss philosophy and open up a space for a community of philosophers on campus.

For the first session, the department awarded the winner of the first Mario Echano Prize for the Best Undergraduate Philosophy Essay. The prize is a tribute to one of the department’s 2017 PhD graduates, Dr Mario Echano, who passed away in 2021.

The session began with welcome remarks by Jan Gresil Kahambing. Prof. Nevia Dolcini, Mario’s former supervisor, then spoke about the award and its rationale. A tribute video was presented, followed by an awarding ceremony, where the winner, Ethan Xu Shi, was given a certificate and prize by the Head of the Department, Prof. Victoria S. Harrison. Ethan is an undergraduate student of physics at the Faculty of Science and Technology, University of Macau.

Ethan then presented his winning essay, “Free Will: A Short Reflection on Randomness” where he offered new mechanisms or some possible solutions on the “micro level of the brain or mental state that would allow randomness and free will to coexist.”

Yufeng Huang chaired the open forum where participants engaged in a spirited conversation and exchanged viewpoints.

Teng Wai Lao gave the closing remarks, thanking everyone who came and praising Ethan Xu Shi for his accomplishment. The inaugural Philosophy Café meeting was a success, offering a venue for philosophical discussion and intellectual interaction. The Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies is looking forward to organizing future events like this one. Students are encouraged to contact the department if they have ideas for future Philosophy Café events.