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What Piece of Work is Man? Frans de Waal and Pragmatist Naturalism

What Piece of Work is Man? Frans de Waal and Pragmatist Naturalism Contemporary Pragmatism Vol. 10, No. 1 (June 2013), 29­59 Editions Rodopi ©2013 Wouter de Been and Sanne Taekema Frans de Waal has questioned the liberal notion that humans are primarily defined by selfishness. De Waal claims that primates are gregarious and guided by empathy. Hence, he argues we should return to Adam Smith's focus on empathy. We believe a return to pragmatism would be more appropriate. Pragmatism largely conforms to the view of human nature that De Waal's research now supports and can provide a more sophisticated framework to integrate recent insights about primate sociality into political and legal theory. The intelligent acknowledgment of the continuity of nature, man and society will alone secure a growth of morals which will be serious without being fanatical, aspiring without sentimentality, adapted to reality without conventionality, sensible without taking the form of calculation of profits, idealistic without being romantic. ­ John Dewey, 1922 (1983, 13) 1. Introduction At the core of much present-day, liberal, legal and political theory there is a notion of human nature defined in terms of individualism, rationality and selfinterest.1 This definition is central to most forms of contract theory. People are assumed to be calculating and self-regarding http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Contemporary Pragmatism Brill

What Piece of Work is Man? Frans de Waal and Pragmatist Naturalism

Contemporary Pragmatism , Volume 10 (1): 29 – Apr 21, 2013

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
© Copyright 2013 by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
1572-3429
eISSN
1875-8185
DOI
10.1163/18758185-90000247
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Contemporary Pragmatism Vol. 10, No. 1 (June 2013), 29­59 Editions Rodopi ©2013 Wouter de Been and Sanne Taekema Frans de Waal has questioned the liberal notion that humans are primarily defined by selfishness. De Waal claims that primates are gregarious and guided by empathy. Hence, he argues we should return to Adam Smith's focus on empathy. We believe a return to pragmatism would be more appropriate. Pragmatism largely conforms to the view of human nature that De Waal's research now supports and can provide a more sophisticated framework to integrate recent insights about primate sociality into political and legal theory. The intelligent acknowledgment of the continuity of nature, man and society will alone secure a growth of morals which will be serious without being fanatical, aspiring without sentimentality, adapted to reality without conventionality, sensible without taking the form of calculation of profits, idealistic without being romantic. ­ John Dewey, 1922 (1983, 13) 1. Introduction At the core of much present-day, liberal, legal and political theory there is a notion of human nature defined in terms of individualism, rationality and selfinterest.1 This definition is central to most forms of contract theory. People are assumed to be calculating and self-regarding

Journal

Contemporary PragmatismBrill

Published: Apr 21, 2013

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