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The Descent of Moral Sentiment

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Interdisciplinary Symposium
February 13th – 15th,  Utrecht, The Netherlands

How did we humans get to be moral organisms? It is widely accepted that the human capacity for morality is a product of evolution that develops robustly in living humans. Yet the origins, function, and genealogy of this capacity continue to be subjected to intense debate today. The aim of this three-day symposium is to advance our understanding of the human capacity for morality by considering its ontogeny and evolution.

The nature of the subject calls for an integrated philosophical and scientific approach. We are therefore delighted to welcome sixteen speakers from a wide range of disciplines – from moral philosophy to evolutionary biology, from developmental psychology to biological anthropology – who will approach our topic from different angles. The task they have been set is to explore the boundaries of their disciplines, to seek connections with neighbouring areas of scholarship, and to build bridges between the humanities and the sciences. With an audience of equally diverse academic descent, the hope is that these three days will see us push the frontiers of knowledge on how we became moral beings.