"Postgenomic Darwinism and Human Nature"

14th Dec 2009

15:30 - 17:00

Seminar room 1.06, 1st Floor, Old Surgeons' Hall, High School Yards

**ATTENDEES MUST PRE-REGISTER FOR THIS SEMINAR** To register - please email Angela.McEwan@ed.ac.uk or call 0131 650 9113.

Prof John Dupre, Professor of Philosophy of Science and Director, ESRC Centre for Genomics in Society (Egenis) University of Exeter

"Postgenomic Darwinism and Human Nature"

This talk will look at some of the ways that recent developments in molecular biology, especially within microbiology and epigenetics, have transformed the way we think, or anyhow should think, about evolution. For example, there are major difficulties with the standard view of the Tree of Life; overemphasis on competition may need to be balanced by much more serious attention to biological cooperation; and even the ulitmate Taboo in recent evolutionary thought, Lamarckism, may need to be partially rehabilitated. Thus, contrary to some popular presentations that suggest that the broad outines of evolution are entirely settled, I shall argue that major issues about both the pattern and processes of evolution remain wide open. An immediate consequence is that detailed arguments about human nature based on evolutionary theory are premature. In addition, some very widely promulgated atempts to derive accounts of human nature from evolution, notable Evolutionary Psychology, are flatly inconsistent with our best current understandings of the science.