Department of Sociology and Philosophy seminar with Dr Paul Griffiths 'A more biological approach to human diversity'
SpeakersDr Paul Griffiths, Professor of Philosophy of Science, Egenis and University Professorial Research Fellow Department of Philosophy, University of Sydney
Organised byDepartment of Sociology and Philosophy
University of Exeter,Egenis,Byrne House,St Germans Road,Exeter, EX4 4PJ
Room no: GF7, Byrne House
Time: 3:00 - 4:30 pm
One connotation of ‘human nature’ is that it is something we all share - ‘human universals’. But a major theme in recent evolutionary biology has been phenotypic plasticity, both as an adaptive phenomenon, and as a potential source of evolutionary novelty. Hence our evolved human nature likely includes patterns of human difference, not only human universals. And explaining human nature means uncovering the causes of difference, as well as the causes of uniformity. To do justice to evolved human diversity we need a way of classifying human traits that embodies two insights. The first is that very different traits can be united by their common origins. The second is that traits can be genuine novelties, despite being built by ancient developmental mechanisms. I show that comparative biology, of the kind familiar from comparative morphology and more recently comparative genomics, with its twin principles of character identity, namely homology and analogy, has the resources to meet these challenges.