The Evolution of Altruism (the Forum)

24 February 2018|

 

The Evolution of Altruism (the Forum)

If evolution is a ‘struggle for existence’, why do we witness so much altruism in nature? From bacteria to baboons, the natural world is full of spectacular examples of organisms cooperating with one another. In the early 1960s, W. D. Hamilton changed the way we think about how such behaviour evolves, […]

What Is It Really Like to Be a Bat? (the Forum)

14 February 2018|

 

What Is It Really Like to Be a Bat? (the Forum)

Are bats conscious, and how can we tell? What is it like to use sound to navigate? In a classic paper called “What Is It Like to Be a Bat?”, Thomas Nagel used the bat’s capacity for echolocation to introduce philosophical problems concerning conscious experience. But […]

The Minds of Whales (the Forum)

2 March 2017|

 

The Minds of Whales (the Forum)

What is it like to be a whale? How do they think and what do they feel? How are their social groups structured, and how do whale ‘cultures’ arise? And how has human thought and human culture been influenced by interaction with whales? In this dialogue, two internationally recognized whale experts — prize-winning […]

The Social Lives of Microbes (the Forum)

24 January 2017|

 

The Social Lives of Microbes (the Forum)

What are microbial societies? In what ways do they resemble human societies and in what ways do they differ? Can the same ideas that explain cooperation in larger animals also explain cooperation in microbes? And what can we learn from microbes about what it is to be human? In this panel […]

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    Hive Minds: Collective Intelligence in Humans and Other Animals (the Forum)

Hive Minds: Collective Intelligence in Humans and Other Animals (the Forum)

19 October 2016|

 

Hive Minds: Collective Intelligence in Humans and Other Animals (the Forum)

Swarms of bees make decisions as a ‘democratic’ collective, voting on various possible nest sites through waggle dances. Does this phenomenon amount to a form of ‘collective intelligence’? Do we also find collective intelligence in humans? And what might humans be able to learn from bees about the best ways […]

The Worst Form of Government? (the Forum)

5 October 2016|

 

The Worst Form of Government? (the Forum)

Winston Churchill famously described democracy as ‘the worst form of government except for all the others that have been tried’. While not exactly a resounding endorsement, something like this sentiment is strongly held by most people in Western societies. Those who challenge it are branded ‘extremists’ or ‘ideologues’, with special suspicion reserved […]

Evolution and Moral Progress (the Forum)

24 March 2016|

 

Evolution and Moral Progress (the Forum)

It now seems hard to deny that at least some of our moral beliefs have been shaped by natural selection. What does this mean for the objectivity of ethics and the possibility of moral progress? Does evolution mean that morality is an illusion? Are we locked into ‘tribal’ ways of thinking, or is […]

Darwinism and the Social Sciences (the Forum)

29 February 2016|

 

Darwinism and the Social Sciences (the Forum)

A growing number of researchers are applying Darwinian ideas to explain aspects of human society, but this work has long been controversial. Is a Darwinian theory of culture possible? If so, what should such a theory look like? In what ways should it differ from a theory of biological evolution? Does the […]

How (Not) to Make Everyone Better Off (the Forum)

23 November 2015|

 

How (Not) to Make Everyone Better Off (the Forum)

Policymakers often aim for so-called ‘Pareto improvements’—changes that make at least one person better off and no one worse off. This may sound innocuous, but is it always a sensible idea? Philosopher Anna Mahtani argues that there is more to the notion of a Pareto improvement than meets the eye.

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    London under Attack: The Moral Complexities of WWII Bombings (the Forum)

London under Attack: The Moral Complexities of WWII Bombings (the Forum)

21 October 2015|

 

London under Attack: The Moral Complexities of WWII Bombings (the Forum)

In June 1944, London was targeted by German terror bombing. The British War Cabinet faced an ethical dilemma: Should they attempt to use double agents to redirect the raids away from Central London and towards less populated areas? Or should they let events take their course? Ethicist Susanne […]