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Evolution, Human Behaviour and Morality: The Legacy of Westermarck


Series: Philosophy and Method in the Social Sciences

By: Olli Lagerspetz(Editor), Jan Antfolk(Editor), Ylva Gustafsson(Editor), Camilla Kronqvist(Editor)

250 pages, 1 b/w illustration


Hardback | Aug 2016 | #234132 | ISBN-13: 9781472451743
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £94.99 $125/€108 approx

About this book

Evolution, Human Behaviour and Morality highlights the recent re-emergence of Edward Westermarck's work in modern approaches to morality and altruism, examining his importance as one of the founding fathers of anthropology and as a moral relativist, who identified our moral feelings with biologically-evolved retributive emotions.

Questioning the extent to which current debates on the relationship between biology and morality are similar to those in which Westermarck himself was involved, the authors ask what can be learnt from his arguments and from the criticism that he encountered. Drawing on Westermarck's manuscripts and papers as well as his published work, the authors show the importance of situating debates, whether modern or classical, in their correct methodological and philosophical context.

Evolution, Human Behaviour and Morality is a rigorous assessment of the ways in which morality is connected with human biological nature. It plays close attention to the development of debates in this field and will appeal to scholars of sociology, anthropology and philosophy.

"This book is an important contribution to the revival of interest in Edward Westermarck, one of the greatest but most overlooked of the classical sociologists. Most discussions of Westermarck focus on his now celebrated theory of incest avoidance, but this volume goes beyond that to consider him as a forerunner of evolutionary psychology and his Darwinian understanding of the evolution of morality. In that regard it is especially welcome."
– Stephen K. Sanderson, University of California, Riverside, USA


1. Introduction: Westermarck and Modern Evolutionary Approaches to Morality (Olli Lagerspetz)

Part 1: Westermarck and the Emergence of 20th Century Social Anthropology
2. Westermarck and the Emergence of 20th Century Social Anthropology: Three Main Challenges (Olli Lagerspetz)
3. Westermarck, Malinowski and the 'Wild Things': At the Interface between Anthropology, Sexology and Psychoanalysis (Juhani Ihanus)
4. The Sensitiveness of the Holy: Westermarck and Durkheim on Religion and Society (Olli Lagerspetz and Kirsti Suolinna)
5. Westermarck, the Evolutionists and the Question of Context (Olli Lagerspetz)

Part 2: Westermarck as a Precursor of Evolutionary Psychology
6. Westermarck as a Precursor of Evolutionary Psychology: The Nature and Nurture of Evolutionary Explanations (Jan Antfolk)
7. Itemising Westermarck's Hypothesis: The Assumptions Embedded in Westermarck's Explanation of Human Incest Avoidanc (Jan Antfolk and Arthur P. Wolf)
8. The Westermarck Thesis as a Thinking Tool for Sociobiology (Ullica Segerstrale)

Part 3: The Emotional Origins of Morality
9. The Emotional Origins of Morality: Methodological Issues (Camilla Kronqvist and Otto Pipatti)
10. The Evolution of Westermarck's Theory of Moral Emotions (Otto Pipatti)
11. Westermarck and Moore on the Source of Morality (Camilla Kronqvist)
12. Emotions and Moral Relativism: Prinz and Westermarck (Camilla Kronqvist)

Part 4: Evolutionary Psychology of Morality: Critical Perspectives
13. Critical Perspectives on Evolutionary Psychology and Morality (Ylva Gustafsson)
14. Why Altruism May Not be the Right Concept for Understanding Morality (Ylva Gustafsson)
15. Westermarck, Sympathy and Natural Selection (Hannes Nykänen)
16. Darwinian Conservatives and Westermarck's Ethics: A Political Dimension of the Late 20th Century Westermarckian Renaissance (Antti Lepistö)

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Olli Lagerspetz is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Åbo Akademi University, Finland. He is the author of Trust, Ethics and Human Reason and co-author of Edward Westermarck: Intellectual Networks, Philosophy and Social Anthropology. Jan Antfolk is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Psychology at Åbo Akademi University, Finland. Ylva Gustafsson and Camilla Kronqvist are both postdoctoral researchers in the Department of Philosophy at Åbo Akademi University, Finland.

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