The world-renowned Australian philosopher Peter Singer asks: does knowledge of evolution help us to understand ethics? Our moral compass may have evolved over time, but how does enhancing our reproductive fitness help us work out what is really right or wrong?
While evolution is neutral with regard to values, Peter Singer tackles the question of altruism's place in evolution's "survival of the fittest" campaign, explaining how reciprocal and trusting relationships generally make for success.
Then Singer humbles us with the reminder that innate judgments are neither necessarily correct, nor better than other judgments. He proposes that human kind has evolved to prefer those who are like us, and suggests humanity is at its best when showing it can move beyond this paradigm.
This event is co-presented with Sydney Ideas and the Think Global School.
Peter Singer is the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics in the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University. He specializes in applied ethics and approaches ethical issues from a secular, preference utilitarian perspective. Singer is well-known for his book, Animal Liberation, a canonical text in animal rights/liberation theory. From 2005 on, Singer has also held the part-time position of Laureate Professor at the University of Melbourne, in the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics.
Princeton ethicist Peter Singer addresses what he regards as the evolutionary urge to make ethical decisions intuitively, rather than rationally. "The fact that we have one of these intuitions should not be taken as a reliable guide to what's right and what's wrong," he says.