Picture this: a philosopher giving a seminar on evolution and moral ecology to a bunch of evolutionary biologists and ecologists. It’s bonkers. But I’m going to give it a shot. I mean, what could go wrong?
Actually, I’m hoping the audience will teach me a thing or two. I’m going to use the opportunity to hurl at them the most ribald version of my moral ecology thesis and see if the analogy sticks.
And I’m going to flop out the full length of my evolutionary story for how our highly polymorphic psychology came to be as it is and see if anyone chops it off.
I’m not sure on the attendance rules, but it’s at the Evolution and Ecology Research Centre at the University of New South Wales at 3pm in the Biomed C theatre on Friday 27th April. Do come!
Here’s the abstract:
In this talk I introduce the notion of ‘moral ecology.’ This is the thesis that there is no one way to promote optimal levels of prosocial and cooperative behaviour in a population. Instead, certain behavioural strategies will be more or less successful depending on the environment in which they’re situated. The environment includes both the physical environment, such as resources and climate, and the social environment, which includes the behavioural strategies employed by other members of the group. What emerges is a pluralism of strategies that are able to sustain high levels of prosocial and cooperative behaviour in their particular environment, forming a meta-stable equilibrium. I suggest that human social and moral psychology evolved in light of this phenomenon and, as such, we evolved a polymorphism of psychological types that promote a pluralism of behavioural strategies while retaining sufficient plasticity to adapt to changing environments. This polymorphism is maintained primarily through negative frequency-dependent selection. I argue that moral ecology can help explain the existence of human psychological diversity, and the existence of moral diversity in the world.