Grant Ramsey - The nature of human nature - 29/06/2015

About the lecture

Understandings of human nature often take human nature to he hidden, something revealed only through careful study of humans or their allied species. Human nature is not manifest, but causally explains manifest traits. It is used to explain why we have the traits we have, and it is seen as especially important for explaining traits that are common or universal. In fact, some definitions of human nature definitionally link human nature to the commonness of the traits in question. In this sense, human nature is something that each human possesses and that explains why we have the traits we have and why these traits are similar across humans. By contrast, other accounts of human nature call into question central ideas about this way of understanding human nature. For instance, is it the commonness or rareness of particular traits that make them central to human nature? Or is it perhaps other features? In this lecture, I consider recent ways of defining human nature proposed by myself and others to see which, if any, can offer a concept of human nature that underlies the human sciences. 

About the speaker

I grew up in the wilds of northern California, where I developed a deep appreciation for nature and a love of science. I attended college at The Evergreen State College, spending much time in the field studying rocks, plants, and insects. At Evergreen I developed a passion for interdisciplinary studies and discovered the field of philosophy of biology. I then pursued graduate school in philosophy of biology at Duke University, studying under Robert Brandon and Alex Rosenberg. Upon completing my PhD from Duke, I took a job at theUniversity of Notre Dame where until June 2015 I held an Assistant Professorship in the Department of Philosophy and was faculty in the Program in History and Philosophy of Science and a Reilly Fellow at the Reilly Center for Science, Technology, and Values.Beginning August 2015 I will be a fellow at the National Humanities Center. My new permanent academic home (beginning July 2016) is the Institute of Philosophy at KU Leuven, where I hold a BOFZAP Research Professor postion.

More info: 



Monday the 29th of June 2015, 11 ' clock
Aula M.002, St-Jacobstraat 2 2000 Antwerp


Participation is free, but online registration is mandatory