A conference titled “The Evolution of Morality: The Biology and Philosophy of Human Conscience” will be held in the idyllic location of Erice, Sicily, on June 17-22 2012. The speakers will be a highly interdisciplinary group of evolutionary biologists, ethologists, neuroscientists, anthropologists, psychologists, philosophers, and theologians, who speak a common theoretical language in addition to their disciplinary training. David Sloan Wilson speaks with the famed primatologist Frans DeWaal, one of the organizers, about the conference and what it means to approach the topic of morality from an evolutionary perspective.

Published On: April 20, 2012

David Sloan Wilson

David Sloan Wilson

David Sloan Wilson is president of Prosocial World and SUNY Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Biology and Anthropology at Binghamton University. He applies evolutionary theory to all aspects of humanity in addition to the rest of life, through Prosocial World and in his own research and writing.  A complete archive of his work is available at www.David SloanWilson.world. His most recent books include his first novel, Atlas Hugged: The Autobiography of John Galt III, and a memoir, A Life Informed by Evolution.

One Comment


    Some readers may know that I have suggested that our apparently innate religiosity has evolved, not simply by Darwinian Natural Selection, but via an indirect process that I call ‘Genetic Priming’. See—


    Like religiosity, moral actions probably also got started as spontaneous behaviours that turned out to be adaptive in an evolutionary sense. This would have favoured particular genetically mediated gene-variants (alleles) that supported/ encouraged such behaviours; thus starting a ‘Genetic Priming’ process similar to that explained in the article I have ‘linked’ to above.

    I may be able to participate in the ‘Evolution of Morality’ conference in Sicily in June. If so, I may have another opportunity to present ‘Genetic Priming’ for discussion: this time in the context of morality/ conscience.

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