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Man as a political, co-operative and moral animal

A friendly lizard greets me as I go to and from my room, but scuttles into the bushes if I let my shadow fall across it. It is day 3 of the Mont Pelerin conference, and today’s theme looked at humans interacting politically, co-operatively and morally. Prof Larry Arnhart kicked off, then Prof Kenneth Minogue. The two took different approaches, with Prof Arnhart taking the rather optimistic view that liberty has emerged as part of the evolutionary process to maximise outcomes. This is a view I share, on the whole. Prof Minogue stressed how liberty has really emerged only in a European context.

Prof Leda Cosmides explored how we make reciprocal decisions based on how much we value the other party, and then Prof David Rose suggested that the empathy which keeps us moral in small groups needs to have something added when we involve ourselves in large organisations. The final session of the day featured Prof John Tooby and Prof Gerald Gaus on man as a moral animal, and the involvement of the evolutionary process in that development. I’ll post links to the papers as promised, but it’s great hearing them delivered and being able to discuss them with the authors.

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