Philosophy Ripped From The Headlines!, Issue #16, 1 (January 2019): Is Human Nature Fundamentally Bad?

By Hugh Reginald


1. “The Bad News on Human Nature, in 10 Findings from Psychology”

By Christian Jarrett

2. Some Follow-Up Thoughts For Further Reflection and Discussion:

Is the following argument sound? If so, why? If not, why not?

  1. Therefore, it’s a fallacy to infer directly from biological findings about human animals to philosophical conclusions about human nature.
  2. Moreover, if a psychological or cognitive-scientific study is designed, under highly controlled experimental conditions, to elicit responses from many or even most people that would be generally deemed or judged morally bad or wrong by contemporary social standards, then that study presupposes, without argument, not only (i) that we already adequately understand the rational and causal grounds of those responses and of those moral judgments and social standards, but also (ii) that no response manifested by people outside those highly controlled conditions is relevant to the results of that study.
  3. For example, it may well be that although under highly controlled experimental conditions, many or even most people will manifest what would be generally deemed or judged to be an egoistic or socially antagonistic response, nevertheless, under significantly different conditions — say, in experimental conditions designed to elicit responses that would be generally deemed or judged to be morally good or right; under relaxed debriefing after the actual experiment; or in everyday life — their responses would be saliently different.
  4. It also needs to be asked whether, in view of the twofold fact (i) that all neoliberal nation-States justify their coercive authoritarianism by citing the supposedly self-evident “truth” that human nature is fundamentally egoistic and socially antagonistic, and (ii) that all psychological and cognitive studies are heavily funded either by the governments of neoliberal nation-States or by the military-industrial-university-digital complex that controls the governments of neoliberal nation-States, then (iii) it’s extremely likely to be a predetermined outcome that psychological and cognitive-scientific studies will obediently support the thesis that human nature is fundamentally egoistic and socially antagonistic.
  5. Therefore, conclusions about human nature drawn from psychological and cognitive-scientific studies are extremely likely not only to be factually mistaken, but also to be morally and politically questionable, and should be regarded with a high level of rational and philosophical skepticism.

3. One Link For Supplementary Reading:

An Anthropologist Investigates How We Think About How We Think


This installment of Ripped! can be downloaded HERE:



ISSUE #15, 3 (December 2018):


Philosophy Ripped From The Headlines! is a sub-project of the online mega-project Philosophy Without Borders, which is home-based on Patreon here.

Formerly Captain Nemo. A not-so-very-angry, but still unemployed, full-time philosopher-nobody.

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