Is human nature something that the natural and social sciences aim to describe, or is it a pernicious fiction? What role, if any, does 'human nature' play in directing and informing scientific work? Can we talk about human nature without invoking-either implicitly or explicitly-a contrast with human culture? It might be tempting to think that the respectability of 'human nature' is an issue that divides natural and social scientists along disciplinary boundaries, but
the truth is more complex.
The contributors to this collection take very different stances with regard to the idea of human nature. They come from the fields of psychology, the philosophy of science, social and biological anthropology, evolutionary theory, and the study of animal cognition. Some of them are 'human nature' enthusiasts, some are sceptics, and some say that human nature is a concept with many faces, each of which plays a role in its own investigative niche. Some want to eliminate the notion altogether, some
think it unproblematic, others want to retain it with reforming modifications. Some say that human nature is a target for investigation that the human sciences cannot do without, others argue that the term does far more harm than good. The diverse perspectives articulated in this book help to
explain why we disagree about human nature, and what, if anything, might resolve that disagreement.
Elizabeth Hannon is Director of the Forum, LSE, and the Assistant Editor for the British Journal for the Philosophy of Science. She has taught in Durham University, the University of Leeds, and the University of Cambridge. Her primary research interests lie within the philosophy of biology and she also edits the popular philosophy essay series, theEssays. Tim Lewens is a Professor of Philosophy of Science in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge, and a Fellow of Clare College. From 2014 to 2017 he was Deputy Director of the Centre for Research in Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Cambridge. His primary research interests include the philosophy of biology, biomedical ethics, and general philosophy of science. His publications include Darwin (Routledge 2007), Biological Foundations of Bioethics (OUP 2015), Cultural Evolution: Conceptual Challenges (OUP 2015), and The Meaning of Science (Penguin 2015). He was a member of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics from 2009 to 2015.