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The Descent of Moral Sentiment


Dr. Joeri Witteveen – organiser
Allert van Westen – support
Ariane den Daas – support

Reach us at: descentofmoralsentiment@gmail.com


The symposium is funded by The Descartes Centre for the History and Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, and the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).


NWO research project ‘Evolutionary Ethics’
“The Descent of Moral Sentiment” is organized by the NWO-sponsored research project “Evolutionary Ethics: The Meta-ethical Implications of Evolutionary Explanations of Morality“.

The NWO-funded research program (2014-2018) aims at investigating the philosophical implications of recent empirical research on the evolutionary origin of human morality. Since Charles Darwin in his Descent of Man(1871) sketched an evolutionary explanation of what he called our ‘moral sense’, ever new insights concerning the evolution of human morality have been gained by various scientific and scholarly disciplines, such as evolutionary biology, comparative behavioural biology, cultural anthropology, history, and, according to some, functional neuro-imagining studies of moral decision-making. This quickly developing field of interdisciplinary research raises several philosophical questions concerning the implications of evolutionary explanations for normative ethics and meta-ethics, which the members of the project address in their respective research programs.


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Descartes Centre
The Descartes Centre for the History and Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities is a joint collaboration of all seven Faculties at Utrecht University. The Descartes Centre contributes to the social and political debate by critically reflecting on the foundations and the dissemination of scientific knowledge and the role of rhetoric in these processes.

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