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


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

9.30pm           selection?

                         ANTHONY O’HEAR           


8.15am           Breakfast (residents only)

9.30am           What can evolution do for us?

                        FRIEDEL WEINERT                                               

10.45am         Coffee / tea

11.15am         Q & A

 Questions directed by MARIANNE TALBOT

12.30pm         Break / bar open

1.00pm          Lunch

2.00pm         Course disperses



Description Costs
Tuition (includes tea/coffee) £80.00
Baguette Sunday £5.00
Dinner Saturday evening £21.00
Single B&B Saturday Night £83.00
Single Room Only Saturday Night £71.00
Sunday Lunch £15.00
Twin/Double Room (2 sharing) B&B Saturday night £118.00
Twin/Double Room Only (2 sharing) Saturday Night £94.00


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 also editor emeritus of The Fortnightly Review's new series. 


Dr 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).





Ms Marianne Talbot

Director of Studies


Marianne Talbot took her first degree at London University, then her B.Phil at Oxford (Corpus Christi College). She has taught for the colleges of Oxford University for 30 years (1987 – 1990 at Pembroke College, 1991 – 2000 at Brasenose College). She has been Director of Studies in Philosophy at OUDCE since 2001. She is the author of Bioethics: An Introduction, and Critical Reasoning: A Romp Through the Foothills of Logic. Marianne’s podcasts have been hugely popular. Two of them have been global number one on iTunesU. One of these (The Nature of Arguments) has been downloaded 7 million times.




Accommodation for this weekend is at Rewley House for Saturday night only.

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.