Homo animal nobilissimum (2 vols)

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

Series:

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

Abstract

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

Abstract

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

Abstract

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.

Simon Blackburn

Abstract

In this paper I draw upon the philosophical tradition in order to question whether scientific advances can show us as much about human nature as some may expect, and to further question whether we should welcome the idea that scientific interventions might improve that nature.

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

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

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

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

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

Philip Kitcher

Abstract

I offer an account of the evolution of ethical life, using it to elaborate a meta-ethical perspective and a normative stance. In light of these discussions, I attempt to answer my title question.

Christopher Boehm

Abstract

For half a century explaining human altruism has been a major research focus for scholars in a wide variety of disciplines, yet answers are still sought. Here, paradigms like reciprocal altruism, mutualism, and group selection are set aside, to examine the effects of social selection as an under-explored model. To complement Alexander’s reputational-selection model, I introduce group punishment as another type of social selection that could have impacted substantially on the development of today’s human nature, and on our potential for behaving altruistically. Capital punishment is a decisive type of social selection, which in our past hunter–gatherer environment was aimed primarily against intimidating, selfish bullies, so it is proposed that moral sanctioning has played a major part in genetically shaping our social and political behaviours. Aggressive suppression of free-riding deviants who bully or deceive has made a cooperatively generous, egalitarian band life efficient for humans, even as it has helped our species to evolve in directions that favour altruism.

Melanie Killen and Michael T. Rizzo

Abstract

Morality is at the core of what it means to be social. Moral judgments require the recognition of intentionality, that is, an attribution of the target’s intentions towards another. Most research on the origins of morality has focused on intragroup morality, which involves applying morality to individuals in one’s own group. Yet, increasingly, there has been new evidence that beginning early in development, children are able to apply moral concepts to members of an outgroup as well, and that this ability appears to be complex. The challenges associated with applying moral judgments to members of outgroups includes understanding group dynamics, the intentions of others who are different from the self, and having the capacity to challenge stereotypic expectations of others who are different from the ingroup. Research with children provides a window into the complexities of moral judgment and raises new questions, which are ripe for investigations into the evolutionary basis of morality.

Frans B.M. de Waal

Abstract

The evolution of behavior is sometimes considered irrelevant to the issue of human morality, since it lacks the normative character of morality (‘ought’), and consist entirely of descriptions of how things are or came about (‘is’). Evolved behavior, including that of other animals, is not entirely devoid of normativity, however. Defining normativity as adherence to an ideal or standard, there is ample evidence that animals treat their social relationships in this manner. In other words, they pursue social values. Here I review evidence that nonhuman primates actively try to preserve harmony within their social network by, e.g., reconciling after conflict, protesting against unequal divisions, and breaking up fights amongst others. In doing so, they correct deviations from an ideal state. They further show emotional self-control and anticipatory conflict resolution in order to prevent such deviations. Recognition of the goal-orientation and normative character of animal social behavior permits us to partially bridge the is/ought divide erected in relation to human moral behavior.

Patricia S. Churchland

Abstract

What we humans call ethics or morality depends on four interlocking brain processes: (1) caring (supported by the neuroendocrine system, and emerging in the young as a function of parental care); (2) learning local social practices and the ways of others — by positive and negative reinforcement, by imitation, by trial and error, by various kinds of conditioning, and by analogy; (3) recognition of others’ psychological states (goals, feelings etc.); (4) problem-solving in a social context. These four broad capacities are not unique to humans, but are probably uniquely developed in human brains by virtue of the expansion of the prefrontal cortex (this formulation is based on Chapter 1 of my book, Braintrust: What neuroscience tells us about morality).

Pier F. Ferrari

Abstract

One of the key questions in understanding human morality is how central are emotions in influencing our decisions and in our moral judgments. Theoretical work has proposed that empathy could play an important role in guiding our tendencies to behave altruistically or selfishly. Neurosciences suggest that one of the core elements of empathic behaviour in human and nonhuman primates is the capacity to internally mimic the behaviour of others, through the activation of shared motor representations. Part of the neural circuits involves parietal and premotor cortical regions (mirror system), in conjunction with other areas, such as the insula and the anterior cingulate cortex. Together with this embodied neural mechanism, there is a cognitive route in which individuals can evaluate the social situation without necessary sharing the emotional state of others. For example, several brain areas of the prefrontal cortex track the effects of one’s own behaviour and of the value of one’s own actions in social contexts. It is here proposed that, moral cognition could emerge as the consequence of the activity of emotional processing brain networks, probably involving mirror mechanisms, and of brain regions that, through abstract-inferential processing, evaluate the social context and the value of actions in terms of abstract representations. A comparative-based approach to the neurobiology of social relations and decision-making may explain how complex mental faculties, such as moral judgments, have their foundations in brain networks endowed with functions related to emotional and abstract-evaluation processing of goods. It is proposed that in primate evolution these brain circuits have been co-opted in the social domain to integrate mechanisms of self-reward, estimation of negative outcomes, with emotional engagement.

Richard Joyce

Abstract

Is human morality a biological adaptation? And, if so, should this fact have any substantial impact on the ethical inquiry of how we should live our lives? In this paper I will address both these questions, though will not attempt definitively to answer either. Regarding the former, my goal is to clarify the question and identify some serious challenges that arise for any attempt to settle the matter one way or the other. Regarding the latter, my ambitions here are restricted to some brief critical comments on one recent attempt to answer the question in the affirmative.

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

Larisa Heiphetz and Liane Young

Abstract

Moral judgment constitutes an important aspect of adults’ social interactions. How do adults’ moral judgments develop? We discuss work from cognitive and social psychology on adults’ moral judgment, and we review developmental research to illuminate its origins. Work in these fields shows that adults make nuanced moral judgments based on a number of factors, including harm aversion, and that the origins of such judgments lie early in development. We begin by reviewing evidence showing that distress signals can cue moral judgments but are not necessary for moral judgment to occur. Next, we discuss findings demonstrating that both children and adults distinguish moral violations from violations of social norms, and we highlight the influence of both moral rules and social norms on moral judgment. We also discuss the influence of actors’ intentions on moral judgment. Finally, we offer some closing thoughts on potential similarities between moral cognition and reasoning about other ideologies.

Vittorio Girotto, Telmo Pievani and Giorgio Vallortigara

Abstract

In this paper, we discuss the limits of the traditional view that supernatural beliefs and behaviours are adaptations for social life. We compare it to an alternative hypothesis, according to which supernatural thinking is a secondary effect of cognitive predispositions originally shaped for different adaptive reasons. Finally, we discuss the respective role of such predispositions and socio-cultural factors in shaping and promoting the diffusion of supernatural beliefs.

Edited by Frank von Hippel

In a flurry of post-war productivity, Niko Tinbergen re-established his lab in Leiden, wrote landmark papers and his famous book The Study of Instinct, and founded the journal Behaviour to serve the burgeoning field of ethology. Tinbergen and his senior assistant, Jan van Iersel, published their classic paper, "Displacement reactions in the three-spined stickleback," in the first issue of his new journal in 1948. Stickleback are now a powerful model in the fields of behavioural ecology, evolutionary biology, developmental genetics, and ecotoxicology - an extraordinary development for a small fish that began its modeling career among an enthusiastic core of Tinbergen students in the 1930s. From a series of clever experiments with painted model fish to the use of the sequenced genome to analyze the genetic basis of courtship, stickleback science progressed in leaps and bounds, often via seminal studies published in the pages of Behaviour.
Tinbergen’s Legacy in Behaviour traces sixty years in the development of science using stickleback as a model, with 34 original articles covering topics ranging from homosexuality and cannibalism to genetics and speciation. Desmond Morris, Theo Bakker, Robert Wootton, Michael Bell, Tom Reimchen, Boyd Kynard, Harman Peeke, and Iain Barber provide fresh retrospectives on their republished works. Commentary by Frank von Hippel accompanies the articles and explains the roles they played in the frontiers of science as researchers falsified or expanded upon one another’s ideas.

Frank A. Von Hippel and William A. Cresko

Frank A. Von Hippel