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Evolutionary Ethics: Reconciling Reason and Intuition

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Published on Jun 2, 2011

Complete video at: http://fora.tv/2011/02/09/Does_Unders...

Princeton ethicist Peter Singer addresses what he regards as the evolutionary urge to make ethical decisions intuitively, rather than rationally. "The fact that we have one of these intuitions should not be taken as a reliable guide to what's right and what's wrong," he says.

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The world-renowned Australian philosopher Peter Singer asks: does knowledge of evolution help us to understand ethics? Our moral compass may have evolved over time, but how does enhancing our reproductive fitness help us work out what is really right or wrong?

While evolution is neutral with regard to values, Peter Singer tackles the question of altruism's place in evolution's "survival of the fittest" campaign, explaining how reciprocal and trusting relationships generally make for success.

Then Singer humbles us with the reminder that innate judgments are neither necessarily correct, nor better than other judgments. He proposes that human kind has evolved to prefer those who are like us, and suggests humanity is at its best when showing it can move beyond this paradigm. This event is co-presented with Sydney Ideas and the Think Global School. - Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Peter Singer was the founding President of the International Association of Bioethics, and with Helga Kuhse, founding co-editor of the journal Bioethics. Outside academic life he is the co-founder, and President of The Great Ape Project, an international effort to obtain basic rights for chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans. He is also President of Animal Rights International.

Since 1999 he has been Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics in the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University. From 2005 on, he has also held the part-time position of Laureate Professor at the University of Melbourne, in the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics.

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