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Homo animal nobilissimum (2 vols)

Konturen des spezifisch Menschlichen in der naturphilosophischen Aristoteleskommentierung des dreizehnten Jahrhunderts. Teilband 2


Theodor W. Köhler

This volume deals with the philosophical approach of thirteenth-century masters to concrete, practical manifestations of specifically human life quantum ad naturalia in their commentaries on Aristotle's works on natural philosophy, both the genuine ones and the ones then considered genuine. It inquires into what they deemed worthy of philosophical debate regarding this topic and how they tackled it. This volume completes as Teilband II the researches initiated in a previous volume (Teilband 1) and describes the scholars' discourses on the peculiarity of human body constitution, the specifically human cognitive faculties and operations, human speech and animal vocal communication, human action and animal activity, human emotional behaviour, and human and animal ways of life. This is the first comprehensive source-based study on the subject; it draws heavely on inedited texts.

Edited by Frans de Waal

Morality is often defined in opposition to the natural "instincts," or as a tool to keep those instincts in check. New findings in neuroscience, social psychology, animal behavior, and anthropology have brought us back to the original Darwinian position that moral behavior is continuous with the social behavior of animals, and most likely evolved to enhance the cooperativeness of society. In this view, morality is part of human nature rather than its opposite. This interdisciplinary volume debates the origin and working of human morality within the context of science as well as religion and philosophy. Experts from widely different backgrounds speculate how morality may have evolved, how it develops in the child, and what science can tell us about its working and origin. They also discuss how to deal with the age-old facts-versus-values debate, also known as the naturalistic fallacy. The implications of this exchange are enormous, as they may transform cherished views on if and why we are the only moral species.

These articles are also published in Behaviour, Volume 151, Nos. 2/3 (February 2014).

Suitable for course adoption!

Ara Norenzayan


I address three common empirical questions about the connection between religion and morality: (1) Do religious beliefs and practices shape moral behavior? (2) Do all religions universally concern themselves with moral behavior? (3) Is religion necessary for morality? I draw on recent empirical research on religious prosociality to reach several conclusions. First, awareness of supernatural monitoring and other mechanisms found in religions encourage prosociality towards strangers, and in that regard, religions have come to influence moral behavior. Second, religion’s connection with morality is culturally variable; this link is weak or absent in small-scale groups, and solidifies as group size and societal complexity increase over time and across societies. Third, moral sentiments that encourage prosociality evolved independently of religion, and secular institutions can serve social monitoring functions; therefore religion is not necessary for morality. Supernatural monitoring and related cultural practices build social solidarity and extend moral concern to strangers as a result of a cultural evolutionary process.

Owen Flanagan, Aaron Ancell, Stephen Martin and Gordon Steenbergen


What do the biology and psychology of morality have to do with normative ethics? Our answer is, a great deal. We argue that normative ethics is an ongoing, ever-evolving research program in what is best conceived as human ecology.

Frans B.M. de Waal, Patricia Smith Churchland, Telmo Pievani and Stefano Parmigiani

Oren Harman


Many different histories of the altruism–morality debate in biology are possible. Here, I offer one such history, based on the juxtaposition of four pairs of historical figures who have played a central role in the debate. Arranged in chronological order, the four dyads — Huxley and Kropotkin, Fisher and Emerson, Wynne-Edwards and Williams, and Hamilton and Price — help us grasp the core issues that have framed and defined the debate ever since Darwin: the natural origins of morality, the individual versus collective approach, the levels of selection debate, and the Is–Ought distinction. Looking forward, the continued relevance of the core issues is discussed.