Recent advances in the understanding of human sociality

Hosted by Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method and School of Public Policy

In-person and online public event (Auditorium, Centre Building)


Professor Joseph Heath

Professor Joseph Heath


Dr Nikhil Venkatesh

Dr Nikhil Venkatesh

Although each of us derives enormous benefit from the vast network of cooperative social relations that exists among human beings, there is still no unified scientific theory that explains how we succeed in sustaining these relations.

Major unanswered questions involve the relationship between biological and sociocultural factors in promoting cooperativeness, as well as the vulnerability of human social systems to stagnation or collapse. We have amassed a great deal of theory regarding these questions, but our scientific knowledge remains fragmented. In recent years, however, a few pieces of the puzzle have begun to be fitted together. In this lecture Joseph Heath will discuss two important advances: first, gene-culture coevolutionary theory, which has shed light on a number of fundamental questions about the early emergence of human sociality, and second, recent work on the development of hierarchy and the state, which has made it possible integrate fundamental sociological insights about how complex societies are maintained. He will attempt to show how these advances move us closer to having a unified scientific understanding of human sociality.

Meet our speaker and chair

Joseph Heath is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Toronto. A fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and the Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation, Heath has written several award-winning books, including Enlightenment 2.0 which won the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize, as well as The Machinery of Government, which won the Donner Prize for best book in public policy in 2020. He is also the co-author, with Andrew Potter, of the international bestseller The Rebel Sell.

Nikhil Venkatesh is a LSE Fellow in the Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method, where he teaches moral philosophy and business ethics. His research focuses on moral, social and political thought, with a particular focus on issues at the intersection of the utilitarian and socialist traditions. He gained a PhD in Philosophy from University College London.

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The Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method (@LSEPhilosophy) was founded by Karl Popper in 1946 and is renowned for a type of philosophy that is both continuous with the sciences and socially relevant.

The School of Public Policy (@LSEPublicPolicy) equips you with the skills and ideas to transform people and societies. It is an international community where ideas and practice meet. Their approach creates professionals with the ability to analyse, understand and resolve the challenges of contemporary governance.

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