6 Jun 2008 - 7 Jun 2008 All day CRASSH



Dr Gabriele De Anna
Dr Christian Illies

Evolutionary theory is one of the most powerful explanatory systems and it has gone far beyond its original area of study, the origin and development of different biological species. A particularly important field of application is ethics: evolutionary theory seems to have the resources to explain several aspects of human behaviour, including morally relevant ones. The issue as to whether evolutionary explanations can also justify ethics, though, is still hot and debated. In this respect, evolutionary theory challenges many of the most fundamental, traditional assumptions about ethics, in two possible, incompatible ways: either by promising to be a new path to normativity (and, thus, justification), or by naturalizing morality to the extent of denying the need of any justification. 

Considering all the scientific data now available, is it still possible to hold that ethics is resistant against being replaced or eliminated? In this short conference we want to explore the possibilities of holding a view of ethics as an irreducible normative theory, in face of (and compatibly with) modern evolutionary theory. This is not a mere scientific, but a metaphysical problem, which might be thus formulated: What would it mean for the architecture of the world if ethics cannot be reduced? Where, then, would “morality” and “nature” find their place, and how would the relationship between the two be accounted for? The conference aims at answering these questions by bringing together philosophers working on ethics, general philosophy of science, philosophy of biology, and metaphysics.



Dr Kevin Brosnan (Cambridge University)
Assessing Moral Realism in the face of Darwinian Dilemmas


Dr Wybo Houkes (Technical University Eindhoven, Netherlands)
Putting morality in its right place. Ethics and three theories of cultural evolution

Dr Andreas Spahn (Technical  University Eindhoven, Netherlands)
Evolution and the Grounds of Ethical Judgements

Dr Christian Spahn (University of Jena, Germany)
Platonism and Darwinism

Dr Predrag Sustar (University of Rijeka, Croatia)Selective Pressures between 'Cheap Tricks' and Evolutionary Neutrality: Lessons from the Function Debate

Dr Gabriele De Anna (Cambridge University)
In What Sense Can an Evolutionary Metaethical Sceptic Be Moral?

Dr Christian Illies (Technical University Delft, Netherlands)
In What Sense Can an Moral Realist be an Evolutionist?


All welcome. The workshop is free and open to all. If you are interested in attending please contact reception@crassh.cam.ac.uk

To see the Programme and Register, please click on the appropriate links on the right hand side.

There will be a dinner for the speakers on Saturday night at Trinity Hall. Those interested in joining please contact Gabriele De Anna (gd299@cam.ac.uk)  by 20th May.  Approximate cost £40.00

Also a dinner on Friday night in a Restaurant in town. Please contact Gabriele De Anna or Reception  by 30th May, if you would join them.

Any enquiries email  reception@crassh.cam.ac.uk


Tel: +44 1223 766886
Email enquiries@crassh.cam.ac.uk