Meet the Expert I

Prof. Allen Buchanan, Ph.D.

The Limits of Evolutionary Explanations of Morality

In cooperation with Prof. Wilfried Hinsch
(department of philosophy)


Can evolutionary biology ellucidate the discussion of the foundation of morality? Are there valid arguments linking the two concepts? These and other fundamental questions with regard to the human condition were raised and discussed in our first Meet the Expert session with Prof. Allen Buchanan, Ph.D.

Assumptions about human nature have been used to inform conservative views for a very long time. While traditional conservative arguments against the possibility of major moral progress or fundamental institutional reform relied on under-evidenced assumptions about the limitations of human nature, a number of contemporary thinkers from a variety of disciplines have attempted to fill this empirical gap in the conservative argument by appealing to evolutionary theory.
These “evoconservatives” deduce from evolutionary accounts of morality that it is unrealistic to think that cosmopolitan and other “inclusivist” moral ideals can meaningfully be realized.

Allen Buchanan discussed and critically reflected the status and implications of these evoconservative evolutionary explanations of morality.

October 31st, 2014

10.00 am – 1.00 pm

University of Cologne
Morphomata Center for Advanced Studies
(IK Morphomata)
Weyertal 5

The Expert

Allen Buchanan is the James B. Duke Professor of philosophy at Duke University. He received his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1975. Prof. Buchanan taught at the University of Arizona, the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and the University of Minnesota before joining Duke's faculty in 2002 as professor of

public policy and philosophy.
He has written six books covering topics including Marx, applied ethics (especially bio-medical ethics), social justice, and international justice, including the foundations of international law. Prof. Buchanan served as staff philosopher for the President's Commission on Medical Ethics in 1983.

From 1996 to 2000 he served on the Advisory Council for the National Human Genome Research Institute. He is a fellow of the Hastings Center, an independent bioethics research institution.