This Thursday, the BBVA Foundation awarded the Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the Humanities and Social Sciences to psychologist Steven Pinker and philosopher Peter Singer for having made “innovative academic contributions that have had a broad impact in the public sphere,” according to a statement from the BBVA Foundation. own organization.
The document states that Pinker, in addition to his implications in the field of cognitive psychology, has achieved great influence in culture and public space with his defense of rationality as the capacity that has made humans progress and face challenges by seeking solutions in scientific knowledge. In the same way that Singer has done with his speech in favor of the ethical condition of animals that has promoted international legislation on animal welfare.
The president of the jury, Carmen Iglesias, director of the Royal Academy of History, highlighted the winners that “both thinkers are united by depth, brilliance, the use of rationality and the advancement of moral progress that they have known stand out in their books and have spread to the whole society”. José Manuel Sánchez Ron, emeritus professor of History of Science at the Autonomous University of Madrid, has argued the result along the same lines. The expert has pointed out: “They are two very distinguished thinkers who, at the same time that they have contributed to the academic field, have been characterized by looking at what can serve to improve society.”
All the more honored to be sharing The Frontiers of Knowledge Award with Peter Singer, whose ideas have inspired me for decades: the expanding circle of sympathy, the escalator of reason, a Darwinian left, the animal rights revolution, ethics & evolution. https://t.co/lLDVC0RNQH
—Steven Pinker (@sapinker) March 9, 2023
Singer, born in Melbourne (Australia) 76 years ago, is a wide-ranging ethical and political philosopher, although above all he is known as one of the founders of the animal rights movement. During his childhood he was not a great lover of pets. It wasn’t until he studied at Harvard University, that he met a vegetarian friend, that he reflected on animal cruelty. For the winner, “the border of the human species is not a morally crucial distinction”, since the other other beings that live on the planet can also feel emotions. “The fact that they do not belong to the species Homo sapiens it doesn’t make your pain any less important. Pain is pain, and it is just as bad, whoever suffers it.” This is the central argument of animal liberation(1975), Singer’s book that almost five decades ago shook the foundations of ethics by including other species.
Singer’s text has been translated into more than 30 languages, and the philosopher points out that many of the practices he described in the first edition of the book, such as “keeping chickens in wire cages so small they can’t even spread their wings,” are today illegal. His commitment has led him to create the organizations Animals Australia and The Life You Can Save. In addition, he was the founding president of the International Association of Bioethics. He has published more than 50 works and has been part of the editorial board of magazines such as Ethics, International Journal for the Study of Animal Problems and Bioethics.
A Canadian and US national, Pinker began her research career in experimental cognitive psychology, looking at how children acquire language. Over the years he has become a specialist in the relationship between mind and speech, with a keen interest in the rationality and evolution of human beings. He has dedicated a large part of his career and his writings to fleeing from the catastrophic vision of what is happening in the world. In defense of the Enlightenment, As he stated in a previous interview with EL PAÍS, “ It is a settling of accounts with those who think that the world does not stop regressing and that only they can save it like Donald Trump.
“Problems are inevitable and solutions create new problems that in turn must be solved. The dilemmas facing the world today are gigantic, but we must see them as problems to be solved, not awaiting apocalypse. When rationality has been put at the service of maximizing human well-being, it is what has driven progress”, she explained. In 2021, the web Academic Influencelisted Pinker as the second most influential psychologist in the world in the decade 2010-2020 and is a doctorhonoris causaby nine universities in five countries.
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