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The Great Debate: Evolution, Human Nature and Autonomy

Public debate held on Thursday 22nd March 2001
Department of Social Policy and Sociology,
University of Newcastle

In association with Institute of Ideas.

Sponsored by Polity Press and Weidenfeld and Nicolson

Christopher Badcock, author Evolutionary Psychology: A Critical Introduction, Psychodarwinism: The New Synthesis of Darwin and Freud
Rita Carter, author Mapping the Mind
Kenan Malik, author Man, Beast and Zombie, The Meaning of Race
Sue Scott, Professor of Sociology, University of Durham

Caspar Hewett

The opening of the twenty first century brings with it new knowledge about our genes and our brains which promises a revolution in the way we view ourselves. Alongside this knowledge is a tendency to view human nature in a deterministic way.

Some argue that only the social sciences can answer questions about human behaviour, while others argue that we are determined by our biology.

So where are the appropriate places to look if we want to understand human nature? What are the implications for our ability to act as autonomous rational individuals?

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© C J M Hewett, 2003