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Darwin on Mind

mercredi 26 septembre 2018, par Charles Pence


Charles Pence

Is a philosopher and historian of science and technology, working as Chargé de cours in the Institut supérieur de philosophie and the Faculté de philosophie, arts et lettres at the Université catholique de Louvain in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium.

Is the director there of the Centre de philosophie des sciences et sociétés (Center for Philosophy of Science and Society, or CEFISES).


In the years after he published his famous Origin of Species, Charles Darwin turned his focus to filling in details of his argument, which he had been forced to pass over in the Origin’s rapid writing process. One such detail was an extensive effort to describe the mental and moral capacities of man and animals. His guiding principle was a broad continuity between man and the animal kingdom – there is no difference in kind, for Darwin, between human and animal mental and moral capacities, only a difference in degree.

While Darwin only wrote briefly on humans’ ethical obligations to animals, I will present the broader context for his moral thought and offer a reconstruction of how some of his arguments might inform contemporary thought on the human-animal relationship.