Britain's leading moral philosopher, Mary Midgley, visits the RSA to challenge the idea that we are self-directed individuals at the mercy of our "selfish genes."
Mary Midgley is one of the most renowned moral philosophers of her generation and the author of many books, including Beast and Man, Wickedness and The Myths We Live By. Her memoir, The Owl of Minerva was published in 2005.
Fundamental dispositions and traits of humans. Theories about the nature of humankind form a part of every culture. In the West, debate has traditionally centred on whether humans are selfish and competitive (seeThomas Hobbes; John Locke) or social and altruistic (Karl Marx, Émile Durkheim). Recent research in genetics, evolutionary biology, and cultural anthropology suggests that humans may be both, and that there is a complex interaction between genetically inherited factors (nature) and developmental and social factors (nurture). Basic drives shared with other primates include food, sex, security, play, and social status. Gender differences include greater investment in reproduction and child-rearing among females, hence less risk-taking; and concomitantly less investment and greater risk-taking among males. See alsobehaviour genetics; Homo sapiens; personality; philosophical anthropology; sociobiology.