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Author Topic:   Morality! Thorn in Darwin's side or not?
Stagamancer
Member (Idle past 5025 days)
Posts: 174
From: Oregon
Joined: 12-28-2008


Message 10 of 438 (504470)
03-29-2009 4:32 AM
Reply to: Message 9 by onifre
03-29-2009 1:05 AM


Onifre,
While I agree with much of what you said, I just want to caution your use of the following argument:
The decrease of aggression and increase of altruism will insure the future success of the species as a whole.
Natural selection is never directed by the future success of the species as a whole, and to use this argument puts you in a dangerous position (in terms of debate)
***************************************************************
While a seemingly good answer to the altruism question, group selection is still an idea that is being tested, and one that is not completely accepted by the scientific community.
In my opinion I think SammyJean is on a right track with mirror neurons. The human CNS is a very complex system that has given rise to many emergent properties, and to find an evolutionary explanation for all of them can be quite difficult. For example, people have wondered why we like music and art. There seems to be no obvious reproductive benefit, and yet appreciation of these things is nearly universal in the human species. Some have argued that enjoyment of music and art is probably a byproduct of our brains ability to use sounds and images abstractly. For example, speech is probably a trait that has benefitted us immensely. So, we've developed the parts of the brain that help us distinguish slight differences in sounds, and these are the same parts that are stimulated by music. Thus we enjoy it.
The point of this little detour is that the joy of altruism or "righteousness" may simply be a byproduct of the traits we've developed to live as social animals, of which mirror neurons are most definitely a part. There are probably other traits related to it as well.

"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."

This message is a reply to:
 Message 9 by onifre, posted 03-29-2009 1:05 AM onifre has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 15 by onifre, posted 03-29-2009 8:04 PM Stagamancer has replied

  
Stagamancer
Member (Idle past 5025 days)
Posts: 174
From: Oregon
Joined: 12-28-2008


Message 17 of 438 (504496)
03-29-2009 9:39 PM
Reply to: Message 15 by onifre
03-29-2009 8:04 PM


That was not my point.
Well, then you need to be more clear. In one sentence you argue that altruism would be selected for by natural selection, and the next you state that this increase in altruism would ensure the success of the species as a whole. So, how is that not your point?

This message is a reply to:
 Message 15 by onifre, posted 03-29-2009 8:04 PM onifre has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 18 by onifre, posted 03-30-2009 12:26 AM Stagamancer has replied

  
Stagamancer
Member (Idle past 5025 days)
Posts: 174
From: Oregon
Joined: 12-28-2008


Message 33 of 438 (504550)
03-30-2009 7:09 PM
Reply to: Message 18 by onifre
03-30-2009 12:26 AM


Would you not agree that those who have these traits and pass it on to their offspring will have a better success rate than those who do not have these traits? - In other words, would a society that was not altruistic survive for a long period of time given todays more modern standards of living?
I would argue that they would not, as shown by our current rate of success in altruistic societies vs. non-altruistic socities.
That all depends on how you define success. There have been plenty of "successful" belligerent societies. Granted, the dominant societies of today tend to be more peaceful (within their borders, the US has fought plenty of wars in other peoples' lands) but this was not always so. The dominant societies throughout history have often been the ones that expand through warfare, and given that no society lasts forever, there's no way to definitively say that their downfall was due to violence.

"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."

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 Message 18 by onifre, posted 03-30-2009 12:26 AM onifre has not replied

  
Stagamancer
Member (Idle past 5025 days)
Posts: 174
From: Oregon
Joined: 12-28-2008


Message 46 of 438 (504612)
03-31-2009 2:19 PM
Reply to: Message 38 by kuresu
03-31-2009 6:24 AM


Re: I Call BS, Plain and Simple
I'm only aware of stating that if anything we (the world) are becoming more aggressive.
So we're killing the same number of people, just doing it more often.
So who are the most efficient killers?
It seems to me that really, the frequency with which we kill is not a result of more aggression, but really just a result of the efficiency with which we can go places to kill people. Technology has no only made it easier to kill more people at once, it has also made it easier to move around the world and do it. If you had given anyone in the ancient world some cars, I'm sure they would've used them to conquer more people more often.
Basically, my point is that as a whole, I think we are neither more nor less aggressive, the way we do things has simply changed do to the delimiting nature of technology.

We have many intuitions in our life and the point is that many of these intuitions are wrong. The question is, are we going to test those intuitions?
-Dan Ariely

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 Message 47 by onifre, posted 03-31-2009 5:02 PM Stagamancer has replied

  
Stagamancer
Member (Idle past 5025 days)
Posts: 174
From: Oregon
Joined: 12-28-2008


Message 52 of 438 (504631)
03-31-2009 7:48 PM
Reply to: Message 47 by onifre
03-31-2009 5:02 PM


Re: I Call BS, Plain and Simple
As a whole our society is clearly a less aggressive society, at least at what is acceptable and not acceptable.
But you cannot say that this is true for all civilizations. In fact your whole point is that this is only true of prosperous societies, but these are hardly the norm.
Just because we rally behind a cause to invade another country under false pretenses does not make us, the gullable citizen, aggressive/non-aggressive, we are simply being lied to a follow blindly.
But we only object to military action when we, either (a) don't really feel threatened, or (b) identify with the enemy. Whether you're rallying people with a false or true cause is not the issue, your still playing on people's desire to divide the world into "Us-es" and "Thems". So whether or not people are gullible, it doesn't matter, your still playing on their aggression to get them to agree to war.
Governments, political forces, deranged megalomaniacs will always try to conquer as they have in the past. This however is not reflective of what the average citizen deems proper behaviour.
But I doubt you'll find any different going back in history. On a day to day basis, most people treat their neighbors and kin well, and this is true for pretty much all social animals, so I can't see how it would've been different back in the day.
If you see someone getting stoned in the middle of the street today, no matter what they did, even if they just killed someone, would you not intervene and tell the stoner - (no pun intended) - to call the proper authorities to handle the situation in a less aggressive but still just, manner?
Most stonings in the past were simply the punishment dolled out after a judgement by a recognized authority. Just because people were allowed to take part in the punishments doesn't mean they were more aggressive. I'm sure you could find plenty of people in our society who would participate in capital punishment if given the chance.

We have many intuitions in our life and the point is that many of these intuitions are wrong. The question is, are we going to test those intuitions?
-Dan Ariely

This message is a reply to:
 Message 47 by onifre, posted 03-31-2009 5:02 PM onifre has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 57 by onifre, posted 04-01-2009 9:21 AM Stagamancer has replied

  
Stagamancer
Member (Idle past 5025 days)
Posts: 174
From: Oregon
Joined: 12-28-2008


Message 65 of 438 (504705)
04-01-2009 8:04 PM
Reply to: Message 57 by onifre
04-01-2009 9:21 AM


Re: I Call BS, Plain and Simple
Fair enough, I will concede that certain societies are less aggressive than in the past.
However, I don't think this can be strictly attributed to Darwinian evolution. Being sentient beings with well developed culture, we adapt much faster culturally than genetically. You said in your opening post:
Simply put, a society that is less aggressive will have a better success rate and pass these traits to their offspring.
In the case of human society I think these traits are memetic rather than genetic (which I understand you didn't say they were one or the other). And since memes evolve more in a Lamarckian sense than a Darwinian, the thorn is no longer in Darwin's side.
I guess my point is that using humans as examples for evolution, especially of complex social traits, is not a good way to go about it because we tend to evolve our culture much more readily than our genes.

We have many intuitions in our life and the point is that many of these intuitions are wrong. The question is, are we going to test those intuitions?
-Dan Ariely

This message is a reply to:
 Message 57 by onifre, posted 04-01-2009 9:21 AM onifre has not replied

  
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