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Student Impact Stories

Emanuele Martinelli expands SFL network in Switzerland and authors a winning essay as part of the Prometheus Fellowship

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Emanuele Martinelli, originally from the Italian Alps, is a PhD student of political philosophy and philosophy of artificial intelligence at the University of Zurich, in a program co-headed by the Chair of Political Philosophy and the Digital Society Initiative, after completing his undergraduate studies in philosophy and economics at the University of Lugano.

Moreover, he is currently the Regional Coordinator for Students For Liberty Italy & Switzerland, as well as the project manager for the italophone branch of the Swiss think tank Liberales Institut. He works as a part-time freelance translator, and writes novels in Italian.

Emanuele Martinelli joined Students For Liberty in 2018, when he was a student in Switzerland. He was contacted by the Italian National Coordinator of the time as he co-founded the only students’ association at the University of Lugano that aimed at fostering political debate in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland. Seeking to internationalize his activism and gain new skills and opportunities, he decided to join. “My expectations were greatly met by Students For Liberty, which opened great opportunities to make my voice heard on a broader scale and on very exciting projects,” Ema says about his experience.

He essentially founded a new Swiss team and, after two and a half years, became the Regional Coordinator of the new SFL region that brought together Italy and the whole of Switzerland. Thanks to Emanuele’s efforts in Switzerland, the Swiss team grew to include members in the Italian-speaking and in the German-speaking parts of Switzerland. The team has also undertaken many new activities and forged very strong regional partnerships.

These events include a debate on climate change between expert Swiss climatologists, and a roundtable with all the young representatives of the Swiss parties about the referendum to include sexual discrimination in the Swiss constitution in Lugano, or the recent event about free speech in cooperation with the Liberales Institut and the Ayn Rand Institute with four invited speakers in Zurich.

The team-building and planning process in Italy too grew quickly under Ema’s leadership, with many new members accepted and multiple new projects in the pipeline. These include a John Galt School in partnership with Ayn Rand Center Europe (then re-proposed in Switzerland as well), and an upcoming 3-days camp that is likely taking place in Southern Italy in March 2023, in partnership with Istituto Bruno Leoni and the Fidinam Foundation.

Emanuele Martinelli (center)
Emanuele Martinelli (center)

The strengthened partnership with the Fidinam Foundation is also definitely one of Ema’s most impactful achievements. Thanks to his work, the Fidinam Foundation decided to pass from being an occasional donor of the Italian team to the main sponsor of the Swiss and Italian activities, with some funds allocated for Europe-wide projects as well, including LibertyCon 2022.

“I was introduced to the Foundation by Carlo Lottieri, a professor at the University of Lugano and co-founder of the Istituto Bruno Leoni, who saw my interest for libertarian political philosophy and greatly encouraged me by accepting to be my main supervisor,” Ema says about the start of the partnership.

The Foundation accepted to fund Emanuele’s MA tuition and a part of his PhD, before expressing interest in supporting his extra-academic efforts to spread the values of liberty and the individual with generous grants to Students For Liberty as well.

Most recently, Emanuele was chosen to participate in SFL’s selective international program Prometheus Fellowship. As Ema says about the program: “it is greatly motivating my strive to bring my activism skills to the next level on the international scene. This has been made possible through talks and personal sessions with excellent experts both in the business and in the academic field.”

Academically, Emanuele’s research interests lie on the crossroads between social ontology, the philosophy of economics, and the political impact of new technologies. His research project deals with the question on whether and how AI technology may be used in principle to overcome Hayek’s knowledge problem for what concerns the central planning of the economy.

Moreover, he is also part of a research team between the Chair of Political Philosophy and the Institute of Informatics of the University of Zurich, working on the impact on political authority of the implementation of automated decision-making devices, with particular attention on multi-agent drone systems.

Personally, Emanuele Martinelli developed a great interest for Ayn Rand’s philosophy and literature, under the guidance of Prof. Douglas Rasmussen. This all informed the essay Ema wrote as part of the Prometheus Fellowship, and which was evaluated as one of the best submitted works globally. The essay is an independent research on Ayn Rand’s defense of intellectual property rights, and how the Aristotelian roots of Ayn Rand’s original theory on the original acquisition of property grounds a defense of intellectual property that the standard, Lockean approach cannot guarantee as easily.

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This piece solely expresses the opinion of the author and not necessarily the organization as a whole. Students For Liberty is committed to facilitating a broad dialogue for liberty, representing a variety of opinions.

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