Monday, December 21, 2009

Habermas's laudatio to Michael Tomasello

The American developmental psychologist Michael Tomasello received the Hegel Prize 2009, December 16, 2009, in Stuttgart, Germany.

The speeches are now available online:

1. Lord Mayor of Stuttgart Wolfgang Schuster: Text - Audio

2. Professor Jürgen Habermas: Text - Audio

3. Professor Michael Tomasello: Text - Audio

Excerpt from Tomasello's acceptance speech:
"And so the large scale and class-based stratification of modern societies, along with the fact that many different types of people from many different ethnic groups are all thrown together into one pot, creates new challenges for human cooperation. The question from the point of view of evolution is: will our evolved capacities for cooperation in small groups scale up successfully to large-scale modern civilization? The only answer from the point of view of evolution at the moment is: so far, so good. We are still here. But of course we are only a few nuclear bombs or a few more decades of rampant environmental degradation away from not being here. It is possible that our skills and motivations for cooperation in small homogeneous groups will not sustain cooperation in the large-scale complexities of the modern world. But there are many signs that we will be able to adjust. New prosocial norms for being careful with our environment and for recognizing the dignity and value of all peoples from all ethnic groups seem to be spreading in influence, not receding, and we are continually finding new ways for creating more cooperative and open arrangements for communication and coalition-building in large-scale societies, as Professor Habermas has argued. These new social norms and new forms of communication – in combination with our inherent prosocial tendencies - can only help us to overcome the difficulties of cooperating in large, heterogeneous groups and across societies. There is plenty of reason for both concern and optimism. Scientific research and evolutionary analyses do not, indeed cannot ever, provide direct answers for societal problems - this is clear. But they often provide useful information or new perspectives on things that can help us to make better decisions and to create better societal arrangements for fostering the kinds of cooperative and moral attitudes that will hopefully sustain us and help us to thrive in an uncertain future."

See my previous post on the event here.

No comments: