GBS Switzerland


GBS is a think thank for applying rationality and critical thinking to the intersection between ethics and science. On this basis, we advance evolutionary humanism and support political priorities resulting from an ethically and empirically informed worldview. Critical thinking is especially important in this context because it is our only insurance against historical error: it enables us to revise dated convictions and probabilistic credences in the light of new evidence. A few hundred years ago, universities taught almost nothing besides theology – which illustrates the concept of culture-forming historical error. Not too long ago either, most of society was unable to recognise racist slavery, sexism or homophobia as at all problematic. If only our thinking had been better, less biased, we would have been able to avoid or more quickly correct such consequential errors. In the light of numerous failures of the (also very recent) past, it would be an unlikely coincidence if we had eliminated all our moral blind spots today already. This leads us to ask: What are the historical errors of our time, what will future generations criticise us for? Which of these errors have the worst consequences, and on what basis do we evaluate this? Building on research results in applied rationality, cognitive psychology and ethics, GBS is looking to systematically tackle these questions.

The conclusion – rough and open to revisions – is a humanist worldview informed by reason and science, for which the evolutionary “big-picture”-perspective is illustrative: Looking back, our long evolutionary history increases the likelihood that we are closer to many non-human animals than traditionally and intuitively thought, and that our thinking-apparatus is by no means optimised for achieving our personal goals (as opposed to the metaphorical goals of our genes) – especially not in the environment of the technologically advanced 21st century. Indeed, cognitive psychologists have verified that our intuitive thinking is riddled with systematic errors. Looking forward, the evolutionary perspective suggests that our future – respectively the future of the posthuman or artificial successor-generations who might perhaps follow us – could turn out to be enormous in regard to population size and temporal duration. Making sure that this future is not dominated by violence and suffering could therefore be of utmost ethical priority. Avoiding historical error is now more important than ever because we are in the process of developing bio, nano and computer technologies that will equip us with unprecedented power. At the same time, our ethical views are still shaped by tradition, religious dogma and a stone-age tribal mentality that strongly departs from an impartial focus on the well-being of everyone. Ethical progress is in danger of being (drastically) overtaken by technological advances. Isaac Asimov’s insight has never been more accurate: «The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.» GBS exists in order to work towards a trend reversal in this domain. Numerous scientists and philosophers support GBS in the academic board of advisors. They bring together knowledge from all disciplines and strive towards overcoming the gap between the humanities and the hard sciences – the “Two Cultures” should merge into a “Third Culture”. Through position papers, GBS participates in political discussions and fosters the communication of policy-relevant scientific insights to the general public. The following is a talk by our co-presidents Lucius Caviola and Adriano Mannino introducing our approach of examining crucial, strongly action-guiding considerations at the intersection of ethics and science, given at the University of St. Gallen in March 2013:

Supported organisations

We cooperatively support numerous organisations, both nationally and internationally.


German-speaking area

Administrative information