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Comte Lecture by Joseph Heath (University of Toronto): Recent Advances in the Understanding of Human Sociality
1 February, 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm
Date: Thursday, 1 February 2024
Time: 6.30pm – 8.00pm
Venue: Auditorium, Centre Building (CBG), LSE Campus
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 the state of scientific knowledge remains fragmented. In recent years, however, a few pieces of the puzzle have begun to be fitted together. I 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. I will attempt to show how these advances move us closer to having a unified scientific understanding of human sociality.
About the speaker:
Joseph Heath is Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Toronto. A fellow of the Royal Society of Canada as well as the Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation, Heath is the author of several award-winning books, including Enlightenment 2.0 (HarperCollins, 2014) which won the Shaughnessy Cohen prize for Political Writing in Canada in 2015, as well as The Machinery of Government (Oxford, 2020), 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 (Capstone, 2006).