On HumansOctober 08, 202200:58:5153.89 MB

2 | Humanistic Ethics in a Darwinian World ~ Philip Kitcher

Is there a tension between biology and philosophy? Why should Homo sapiens care about ethics? What, if anything, does evolution tell us about human nature?

To discuss these topics, Philip Kitcher joins your host, Ilari Mäkelä.

Philip Kitcher is an emeritus professor of philosophy at Columbia University. He is the author of numerous books, such as Living With Darwin and The Ethical Project.

Ilari and professor Kitcher discuss topics such as:

01.35: Kitcher's theory of morality as a social technology designed to solve problems resulting from the fragility of human altruism. 

20.07: What is Kitcher’s argument against sociobiology / evolutionary psychology? Is it still relevant? Does evolution prove that we are all selfish?

42.43: What is secular humanism? What is the value of religion? What can secular humanists learn from religion?

Names mentioned

  • David Hume, Adam Smith, Thomas Hobbes
  • Amia Srinivasan (contemporary Oxford philosopher, see her review of Ethical Project in LRB)
  • Bertrand Williams (late Cambridge philosopher)
  • Stephen Jay Gould (late Harvard palaeontologist)
  • Richard Lewontin (late Harvard biologist)
  • E. O. Wilson (late Harvard biologist)
  • David P. Barash (contemporary evolutionary biologist)
  • Richard Alexander (contemporary evolutionary anthropologist)
  • John Bowlby (late psychologist and founder of the attachment theory)
  • Johanna Haarer (Nazi propagandist)
  • Michael Ghiselin (evolutionary biologist, famous for the quote: “scratch an altruist and watch a hypocrite bleed”)
  • Dan Dennett (contemporary philosopher and atheist, interviewed by Sean Carroll)
  • Immanuel Kant (referenced from his thesis about the primacy of ethics over religion)
  • Robert Frost (poet)
  • Richard Dawkins (contemporary biologist and atheist)
  • Sam Harris (contemporary writer, atheist, and podcaster)
  • Christopher Hitchens (late journalist and atheist)

Terms mentioned

  • Consequentialism
  • Homo querens

Other work cited

Other scholars to follow (Kitcher’s recommendation)

  • Kwame Anthony Appiah
  • Nancy Cartwright
  • Martha Nussbaum
  • Elizabeth Anderson
  • Susan Neiman