Humans, Animals, and Morality in a Nature-Inclusive Sociology

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 4:15 PM
Room: F202
Oral Presentation
Kris VAN KOPPEN , Wageningen University, Wageningen, Netherlands
Disruption of natural systems and depletion of natural resources have become major concerns in society, both in their global reach and in their local impacts. Natural science insights into human behaviour - particularly from the fields of neuroscience and evolutionary biology - have increasing impact on our understanding of the social world. Sociology has to embrace these insights in its analysis, but not by abandoning its hermeneutic method. Starting from these tenets, this paper sketches principles of a nature-inclusive sociology, building on studies of Moscovici and Foucault, and on earlier work of the author. In applying and elaborating these principles it explores the social implications of the commonalities of human and animal bodies. While similarities found in evolutionary, neurological and ethological research have profound impacts on the understanding of animal and human behaviour and the ethics of animal-human relationships, they fall short in supporting the environmental morality tied to these findings by Edward O. Wilson and other conservation biologists. The paper then sets out to describe a social practices approach to human-nature relationships that gives due attention to natural science findings and natural system dynamics while leaving intact the role of human agency and responsibility in protecting our natural world.