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Why We Disagree About Human Nature$
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Elizabeth Hannon and Tim Lewens

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198823650

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198823650.001.0001

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Doubling Down on the Nomological Notion of Human Nature

Doubling Down on the Nomological Notion of Human Nature

(p.18) 1 Doubling Down on the Nomological Notion of Human Nature
Why We Disagree About Human Nature

Edouard Machery

Oxford University Press

This chapter defends the nomological notion of human nature according to which human nature is the set of properties that humans tend to possess as a result of the evolution of their species. In particular, I show why it is appropriate to single out the traits that are typical of human beings (the ‘universality proposal’) and the traits that have evolved (the ‘evolution proposal’). According to the former, traits that belong to human nature must be typical of human beings; according to the latter, they must have evolved. This proposal has been extensively criticized, and the goal of this chapter is to address these criticisms and to improve the nomological notion of human nature. In particular, the chapter aims to distinguish those traits that can be proper targets of explanations appealing to evolutionary information from those that can’t.

Keywords:   nomological notion of human nature, universality proposal, evolution proposal, human behavioural sciences, typicality, contrastive explanation

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