Human Nature

This might be useful for the nature-nurture debate and aggression. The link below is to a short radio programme on human nature. Steven Pinker outlines a definition of human nature and argues that the idea of the 'blank slate' is mistaken. He makes some interesting points about aggression and violence and is critical of research that proposes violence is learnt behaviour. Pinker argues that research should focus on the genetic basis of aggression and violence and points to twin studies as significant evidence to support his position. His main point is that violence is part of human nature, we are violent animals and we are hardwired for aggressive and violent behaviour. We cannot change human nature we can only control it.

John Grey makes the point that we are animals and a lot of our behaviour is hardwired just like other animals. He tells a story about a philosopher who claimed he had persuaded his cat to become a vegan and argues that cats are predators and it is absurd to think that we can change a cats essential nature. It is equally absurd to think that we can change human nature.

Janet Radcliffe Richards clears up some confusions about Darwinian human nature and explains how evolutionary accounts of human behaviour are about what 'is' not about what 'ought to be'. This is important to keep in mind when reading evolutionary explanations of human behaviour.

The contributers conclude that there is no real debate, no real conflict between nature and nurture. Nurture is impossible without the innate mechanisms to support learning.

BBC radio programme on Human Nature

The video is a short lecture by Steven Pinker called a Short History of Violence or 'why everything you think (about violence anyway) is wrong'.

No comments: