Human Nature: Does Evolutionary Explanation Have Limits?


Darwin’s Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection might reasonably be considered one of the most successful theories of all times. But how should we understand it? Are there in fact two theories rather than one (linear and branching evolution)? Can the theory be used both to explain and to predict?

What, furthermore, are the implications of Darwin’s theory for some of the problems that we consider in philosophy? Can Darwin’s theory account for human nature, for example, or is there something about human beings that requires supplementary explanation? Can Darwin’s theory be appealed to in explanation of the emergence, for example, of the human mind? Might Darwin’s theory be applied to our political, social and economic behaviour? Or might it, in such an application, be thought to defeat itself as Marxianism and Freudianism do?

During this weekend we will hear two philosophers discuss what the Theory of Natural Selection can, and can’t explain.

There will be plenty of opportunity to ask questions of the speakers and to socialise with the speakers and other participants. 

Programme details

Saturday 5 February 2022

2.45pm  Course Registration

3.00pm  Problems with Darwinism? ANTHONY O’HEAR

4.30pm  Tea / coffee

5.00pm  How evolution works, FRIEDEL WEINERT                       

6.30pm  Break / bar open

7.00pm  Dinner

8.15pm  Human nature: An exception to the workings of natural selection? ANTHONY O’HEAR    

9.30pm End of day

Sunday 6 February 2022

8.15am  Breakfast (residents only)

9.30am  What can evolution do for us? FRIEDEL WEINERT                                               

10.45am  Coffee / tea

11.15am Q&A, Questions director STEPHEN LAW

12.30pm  Break / bar open

1.00pm  Lunch

2.00pm  Course disperses


Description Costs
Tuition (includes tea/coffee) £90.00
Baguette Sunday £5.50
Dinner Saturday evening £22.00
Sunday Lunch £16.00


If you are in receipt of a state benefit you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees.

If you do not qualify for the concessionary fee but are experiencing financial hardship, you may still be eligible for financial assistance.

Concessionary fees for short courses


Professor Anthony O'Hear


Anthony O’Hear is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Buckingham and Head of the Department of Education. He is Honorary Director of the Royal Institute of Philosophy and editor of its journal Philosophy. He is also editor emeritus of The Fortnightly Review's new series.

Professor Friedel WEINERT


Friedel Weinert is Emeritus Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Bradford. He has published several books on the interrelationship between science and philosophy, including Copernicus, Darwin & Freud: Revolutions in the History and Philosophy of Science (Wiley Blackwell 2009). He has edited several volumes in this area, including Evolution 2.0.: Implications of Darwinism in Philosophy and the Natural and Social Sciences, edited by Martin Brinkworth and Friedel Weinert. (Heidelberg/Berlin/New York: Springer. The Frontiers Collection 2011).


Accommodation for this weekend is at Rewley House for Saturday night only. If you would like to book a double or a twin room, please email

Depending on availability it may also be possible to extend your stay, please enquire at the time of booking for availability and prices.

All bedrooms are modern, comfortably furnished and each room has tea and coffee making facilities, Freeview television, and Free WiFi and private bath or shower rooms.