Posted July 17th 2018

Dr Dora Biro co-edits Royal Society journal issue on human and animal responses to death

Congratulations to St Hugh’s Fellow Dr Dora Biro on the publication of an issue of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society which she co-edited.

The issue explores reactions to death across human societies and in animals from an evolutionary perspective. It is the first collection of papers to try to formalise the field of “Evolutionary Thanatology” – the study of how and why death-related psychological states and practices have evolved in different species.

As well as serving as one of the editors on the issue, she co-authored an article on the cues used by animals to determine if a body is alive or dead, which integrates concepts from multiple fields including evolutionary biology, cognitive science and robotics.

The issue also includes an article written by St Hugh’s Fellow Professor Matt Husband. He contributed a paper on the “special status” in language of verbs related to death, and argued that the way in which these “thanatological verbs” are deployed reveals a “constraint on our mental representations” of death.

The issue can be read here.