Philosophy Research Seminar - Helen De Cruz

Machicado Suite Willoughby Hall
Wednesday 3rd October 2018 (15:00-17:00)
Matthew Duncombe

Dr Helen De Cruz (Oxford Brookes University)

Filling the Gap in Evolutionary Ethics: What Archaeology Can Tell Us About the Evolution of Morality

This paper will examine what archaeological evidence can tell us about the evolution of morality, with the aim of formulating a more empirically-informed genealogy of morality. Philosophers such as Jean Jacques Rousseau, Friedrich Nietzsche, and more recently, Richard Joyce and Philip Kitcher, have offered speculative accounts of how morality evolved. These accounts have played, and continue to play, a crucial role in meta-ethical and normative ethical accounts. But these accounts remain to a large extent uninformed by archaeological evidence, thereby ignoring the most crucial source of information about morality in human evolutionary history. Recent advances in the philosophy of archaeology and archaeological theory warrant optimism about how much we can infer from the archaeological record. I’ll look at archaeological evidence for care in the Pleistocene, as well as for the role of ritual in facilitating cooperation (especially between groups). I will connect these lines of evidence with early Confucian views on the role of ritual and of compassion in ethical behaviour.

Department of Philosophy

University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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