Why We Disagree About Human Nature

Oxford: Oxford University Press (2018)
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Abstract

Is human nature something that the natural and social sciences aim to describe, or is it a pernicious fiction? What role, if any, does ”human nature’ play in directing and informing scientific work? Can we talk about human nature without invoking---either implicitly or explicitly---a contrast with human culture? It might be tempting to think that the respectability of ”human nature’ is an issue that divides natural and social scientists along disciplinary boundaries, but the truth is more complex. The contributors to this collection take very different stances with regard to the idea of human nature. They come from the fields of psychology, the philosophy of science, social and biological anthropology, evolutionary theory, and the study of animal cognition. Some of them are ”human nature’ enthusiasts, some are sceptics, and some say that human nature is a concept with many faces, each of which plays a role in its own investigative niche. Some want to eliminate the notion altogether, some think it unproblematic, others want to retain it with reforming modifications. Some say that human nature is a target for investigation that the human sciences cannot do without, others argue that the term does far more harm than good. The diverse perspectives articulated in this book help to explain why we disagree about human nature, and what, if anything, might resolve that disagreement. Introduction Tim Lewens 1 Doubling Down on the Nomological Notion of Human Nature Edouard Machery 2 Trait Bin and Trait Cluster Accounts of Human Nature Grant Ramsey 3 A Developmental Systems Account of Human Nature Karola Stotz and Paul Griffiths 4 Human Nature, Natural Pedagogy, and Evolutionary Causal Essentialism Cecilia Heyes 5 Human Nature John Dupré 6 Sceptical Reflections on Human Nature Kim Sterelny 7 The Social Construction of Human Nature Kevin N. Laland and Gillian R. Brown 8 The Use and Non-Use of the Human Nature Concept by Evolutionary Biologists Peter J. Richerson 9 Human Ontogenies as Historical Processes Christina Toren 10 Divide and Conquer Maria Kronfeldner.

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Divide and conquer: The authority of nature and why we disagree about human nature.Maria Kronfeldner - 2018 - In Elizabeth Hannon & Tim Lewens (eds.), Why We Disagree About Human Nature. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 186-206.
Human nature, natural pedagogy, and evolutionary causal essentialism.Cecilia Heyes - 2018 - In Elizabeth Hannon & Tim Lewens (eds.), Why We Disagree About Human Nature. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
The use and non-use of the human nature concept by evolutionary biologists.Peter J. Richerson - 2018 - In Elizabeth Hannon & Tim Lewens (eds.), Why We Disagree About Human Nature. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Trait bin and trait cluster accounts of human nature.Grant Ramsey - 2018 - In Elizabeth Hannon & Tim Lewens (eds.), Why We Disagree About Human Nature. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Doubling down on the nomological notion of human nature.Edouard Machery - 2018 - In Elizabeth Hannon & Tim Lewens (eds.), Why We Disagree About Human Nature. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Trait bin and trait cluster accounts of human nature.Grant Ramsey - 2018 - In Elizabeth Hannon & Tim Lewens (eds.), Why We Disagree About Human Nature. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
The social construction of human nature.Kevin N. Laland & Gillian R. Brown - 2018 - In Elizabeth Hannon & Tim Lewens (eds.), Why We Disagree About Human Nature. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Sceptical reflections on human nature.Kim Sterelny - 2018 - In Elizabeth Hannon & Tim Lewens (eds.), Why We Disagree About Human Nature. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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Author Profiles

Tim Lewens
Cambridge University
Elizabeth Hannon
London School of Economics

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