Frans de Waal has questioned the liberal notion that humans are primarily defined by selfishness. De Waal claims that primates are gregarious and guided by empathy. Hence, he argues we should return to Adam Smith's focus on empathy. We believe a return to pragmatism would be more appropriate. Pragmatism largely conforms to the view of human nature that De Waal's research now supports and can provide a more sophisticated framework to integrate recent insights about primate sociality into political and legal theory.
Contemporary Pragmatism
Erasmus School of Law

de Been, W., & Taekema, S. (2013). What piece of work is man? Frans de waal and pragmatist naturalism. Contemporary Pragmatism, 10(1), 29–58. Retrieved from