Wednesday, August 15, 2007

E.O. Wilson Contra Ayn Rand

"There is a hereditary selective advantage to membership in a powerful group united by devout belief and purpose. Even when individuals subordinate themselves and risk death in common cause, their genes are more likely to be transmitted to the next generation than are those of competing groups who lack equivalent resolve.

"The mathematical models of population genetics suggest the following rule in the evolutionary origin of such altruism. If the reduction of survival and reproduction of individuals due to such genes for altruism is more than offset by the increased probability of survival of the group due to altruism, the altruism genes will rise in frequency throughout the entire population of competing groups. Put as concisely as possible: The individual pays, his genes and tribe gain, altruism spreads." - E. O. Wilson, "Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge", 1998 p287

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

The fitness of altruism was thoroughly discredited in George C. Williams Adaptation and Natural Selection published in 1966. There are narrow, conditional circumstances favoring a putative "donor gene" in some species, but even then, the donor gene was shown to have a selfish function. Maybe E.O. Wilson should brush up on the field's body of literature and learn to use concepts correctly. There is no altruism in the natural world.

Damien said...

Anonymous,

Could it be that George C Williams was wrong? Science changes and new discoveries contradict older ideas. If altruism does not exist in nature, why then are humans so fond of it? Have you ever heard of kinship altruism or reciprocal altruism?

Red Grant said...

___________________________________

If altruism does not exist in nature, why then are humans so fond of it? - damien
___________________________________





Does Santa Claus exist in nature?

Are many humans fond of "Santa Claus"?

Do you believe in Santa Claus for real?

Damien said...

Red Grant,
-------------------------------------
Does Santa Claus exist in nature?

Are many humans fond of "Santa Claus"?

Do you believe in Santa Claus for real?
--------------------------------------

Myths like Santa Claus and psychology are on two different levels. Santa Claus does not exist, but it has no bearing on my argument.

Admiration for Altruism is a near universal human cultural trate and there is good reason for this. Fathers who risk their lives to save their children, (kinship altruism) are almost always admired by everyone. Yes he increases the chances that he genes will survive to the next generation, but animals and primitive man had no concept of genetic inheritance like we do. But then what about people who risk their lives to save strangers? Rare, though they may be, they are admired for good reason. Plus our society and practically all human societies look down on people who only care about themselves or their close kin. Now why is that?

Red Grant said...

___________________________________

If alturism does not exist in nature, then why are humans so fond of it? - damien
-----------------------------------

Does Santa Claus exist in nature?

Are many humans fond of "Santa Claus"?

Do you believe in Santa Claus for real? - Red Grant

-----------------------------------

Santa Claus does not exist in nature, but it has no bearing on my argument. - damien
-----------------------------------
If alturism does not exist in nature, why then are humans so fond of it? - damien
___________________________________




Does this mean then you believe whether humans are fond of a certain concept or a being has no bearing on whether the said concept or being exists or not in nature?

If so, then why had you asked such a question:

___________________________________

If alturism does not exist in nature, why then are humans so fond of it? - damien
___________________________________

?



___________________________________

Yes, he increases the chances he genes will survive to the next generation, but

animals and primitive man

had no concept of genetic inheritance like we do. - damien
___________________________________




First of all, how do you know animals and primitive man had no concept of genetic inheritance like we do?

Why do many animals will go through physical suffering and hardship to protect their young?

Why did kings in ancient times went out of their way to make sure their biological off springings would get the throne, instead of strangers?


___________________________________

Admiration for Alturism is a near universal human cultural trate... - damien
___________________________________




Is that why there are so many wars thoughout history, because admiration for alturism is a near unversal human cultural trate?

Is that why U.S. murdered and robbed the Natives?



___________________________________

...and there is a good reason for this. - damien
___________________________________




What's the good reason?



___________________________________

Plus our society and practically all human societies look down on people who only care about themselves or their close kin.

Now why is that? - damien
___________________________________






Indeed, why do you think is that?

Red Grant said...

___________________________________

Myth like Santa Claus and psychology are on two different levels. - damien
___________________________________






Can myth exist without psychology?

Damien said...

Red Grant

Myth cannot exist without psychology, but a belief in Santa Claus and a belief in how people ought to behave are a little different. Note that they are connected, but they are still somewhat different.

As for my question,
If altruism does not exist in nature, why then are humans so fond of it?

It seems to me that if altruism were completely against human nature, that we wouldn't be very fond of it at all.

Red Grant said...

___________________________________

Myth like Santa Claus and psychology are on two different levels. - damien
-----------------------------------

Can myth exist without psychology? - Red Grant

-----------------------------------

Myth cannot exist without psychology, but a belief in Santa Claus and

a belief in how people

ought to behave

are a little different. - damien
___________________________________




Does this mean then you believe psychology decides how people

ought to behave?



___________________________________

If alturism does not exist in nature, then why are humans so fond of it? - damien
-----------------------------------
Santa Claus does not exist,... - damien
___________________________________





If Santa Claus does not exist in nature, then why are humans so fond of it?


Does this mean then you believe whether humans are fond of a certain concept or a being is the proof of said concept or being's existence?


___________________________________

Yes he increases the chance he genes will survive to the next generation, but

animals and primitive man

had no concept of genetic inheritance like we do. - damien
___________________________________





First of all, how do you know animals and primitive man had no concept of genetic inheritance like we do?

Why do many animals go through physical hardship and suffering to protect their young?

Why did kings in ancient times go out of their way to make sure their biological off-springings would get the throne, instead of strangers?



___________________________________

Admiration for Alturism is a near universal cultural trate... - damien
___________________________________





Is that why there are so many wars throughout history, because admiration for alturism is a near universal cultural trate?

Is that why the U.S. murdered and robbed the Natives?




___________________________________

..., and there is a good reason for this? - damien
___________________________________





What's the good reason?





___________________________________

Plus our society and practically all human societies look down on people who only care about themselves and their close kin.

Now why is that? - damien
___________________________________





Indeed, why do you think is that?

Red Grant said...

___________________________________

...and there is a good reason for this? - damien
___________________________________


Should have been

___________________________________

...and there is a good reason for this. - damien
___________________________________

Damien said...

Redgrant,

The reason most people look down on people who only care about themselves is because they want them to care about them, and the other people they care about. Although you might insist that this makes it non altruistic, even selfish, remember the term reciprocal altruism, you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. The best definition for philosophical altruism is the belief that morality is based on what you do for other people. Reciprocal altruism therefor could be considered a type of altruism.

mad dog said...

So what? Animals are almost completely devoted to instinct. People have minds. They are allowed to choose. Should humans reduce themselves to the level of dumb beasts on account of some alleged benefit for humanity claimed by the elite?

It is so typical of the left to regard animals and their ways as better than humanity. Take PETA, for example.

Damien said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Damien said...

mad dog,

So what? You don't see the point in studying human psychology? You don't see the value in that?

Should man reduce himself to the level of a mere animal to satisfy the elite because of some supposed benefit to humanity? No, but how would what I'm saying support that? How would what I'm saying lead to that?

Red Grant said...

___________________________________

Redgrant,

The reason most people look down on people who only care about themselves is because they want them to care about them, and the other people they care about.

Although you might insist that this makes it non altruistic, even selfish, remember the term reciprocal altruism,

you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. - Damien
-----------------------------------
Reciprocal altruism therefor could be considered

a type of altruism. - Damien
___________________________________




Okay, Damien, so "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours." stands for a type of alturism?


So following your logic,

you won't scratch his hairy or shaved back, if he's not willing to scratch your back(whether hairy or shaved)?

or

one doesn't give something to another, unless the other gives something else in return one values enough to give the other something the other values enough?

or

one doesn't give another a nice mcmansion unless the other gives one more money than anyone else is willing to give?

or

a businessman doesn't provide goods/services to clients unless the clients are willing to give as much money for those goods/services to the extent that the businessman thinks will maximize his profit?


or

is profit-incentive

a type of alturism?


or

is it a type of greed?



or



are you implying a type of alturism can be a type of greed?



or



are you merely engaging in sophistry?






___________________________________

The best definition for philosophical altruism is the belief that morality is based on what you do for other people. - Damien
___________________________________





Who decides what is the best definition for philosophical alturism

in universally objectively valid sense?



you?



___________________________________

...morality is based on what you do for other people. - Damien
___________________________________






Did you mean, by "what you do for other people"?



what you intend to do for other people?


or


what you think you intend to do for other people?



or


what you want to believe you intend to do for other people?



or


what you happend to do for other people?






___________________________________

Myth like Santa Claus and psychology are on two different levels. - damien
-----------------------------------

Can myth exist without psychology? - Red Grant

-----------------------------------

Myth cannot exist without psychology, but a belief in Santa Claus and

a belief in how people

ought to behave

are a little different. - damien
___________________________________




Does this mean then you believe psychology decides how people

ought to behave?



___________________________________

If alturism does not exist in nature, then why are humans so fond of it? - damien
-----------------------------------
Santa Claus does not exist,... - damien
___________________________________





If Santa Claus does not exist in nature, then why are humans so fond of it?


Does this mean then you believe whether humans are fond of a certain concept or a being is the proof of said concept or being's existence?


___________________________________

Yes he increases the chance he genes will survive to the next generation, but

animals and primitive man

had no concept of genetic inheritance like we do. - damien
___________________________________





First of all, how do you know animals and primitive man had no concept of genetic inheritance like we do?

Why do many animals go through physical hardship and suffering to protect their young?

Why did kings in ancient times go out of their way to make sure their biological off-springings would get the throne, instead of strangers?



___________________________________

Admiration for Alturism is a near universal cultural trate... - damien
___________________________________





Is that why there are so many wars throughout history, because admiration for alturism is a near universal cultural trate?

Is that why the U.S. murdered and robbed the Natives?




___________________________________

..., and there is a good reason for this? - damien
___________________________________





What's the good reason?

Red Grant said...

___________________________________

Redgrant,

The reason most people look down on people who only care about themselves is because they want them to care about them, and the other people they care about.

Although you might insist that this makes it non altruistic, even selfish, remember the term reciprocal altruism,

you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. - Damien
-----------------------------------
Reciprocal altruism therefor could be considered

a type of altruism. - Damien
___________________________________




Okay, Damien, so "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours." stands for a type of alturism?


So following your logic,

you won't scratch his hairy or shaved back, if he's not willing to scratch your back(whether hairy or shaved)?

or

one doesn't give something to another, unless the other gives something else in return one values enough to give the other something the other values enough?

or

one doesn't give another a nice mcmansion unless the other gives one more money than anyone else is willing to give?

or

a businessman doesn't provide goods/services to clients unless the clients are willing to give as much money for those goods/services to the extent that the businessman thinks will maximize his profit?


or

is profit-incentive

a type of alturism?


or

is it a type of greed?



or



are you implying a type of alturism can be a type of greed?



or



are you merely engaging in sophistry?

Damien said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Damien said...

Red Grant,

No Greed and the profit motive are not altruistic. One problem with discussing altruism is that there is more than one definition of it.

Answers.com gives two definitions for the term altruism.
---------------------------------------------------
1. Unselfish concern for the welfare of others; selflessness.
2. Zoology. Instinctive behavior that is detrimental to the individual but favors the survival or spread of that individual's genes, as by benefiting its relatives.

---------------------------------------------------
Source

Answers.com also has an interesting article on altruism_in_animals, which makes some pretty convincing arguments that it exists in nature.

At the end of an article in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, titled "Biological Altruism" it states,
---------------------------------------------------
Where human behaviour is concerned, the distinction between biological altruism, defined in terms of fitness consequences, and ‘real’ altruism, defined in terms of the agent's conscious intentions to help others, does make sense. (Sometimes the label ‘psychological altruism’ is used instead of ‘real’ altruism.) What is the relationship between these two concepts? They appear to be independent in both directions, as Elliott Sober (1994) has argued. An action performed with the conscious intention of helping another human being may not affect their biological fitness at all, so would not count as altruistic in the biological sense. Conversely, an action undertaken for purely self-interested reasons, i.e., without the conscious intention of helping another, may boost their biological fitness tremendously.

Sober argues that, even if we accept an evolutionary approach to human behaviour, there is no particular reason to think that evolution would have made humans into egoists rather than psychological altruists. On the contrary, it is quite possible that natural selection would have favoured humans who genuinely do care about helping others, i.e., who are capable of ‘real’ or psychological altruism. Suppose there is an evolutionary advantage associated with taking good care of one's children — a quite plausible idea. Then, parents who really do care about their childrens' welfare, i.e., who are ‘real’ altruists, will have a higher inclusive fitness, hence spread more of their genes, than parents who only pretend to care, or who do not care. Therefore, evolution may well lead ‘real’ or psychological altruism to evolve. Contrary to what is often thought, an evolutionary approach to human behaviour does not imply that humans are likely to be motivated by self-interest alone. One strategy by which ‘selfish genes’ may increase their future representation is by causing humans to be non-selfish, in the psychological sense.

---------------------------------------------------
Source

Red Grant said...

___________________________________

One problem with discussing altruism is that there is more than

one definition of it. - Damien
-----------------------------------
Admiration for Alturism is a near universal cultural trate... - damien from 8/11/2008 09:15:00 AM
___________________________________





Which definition were you using in your post above from 8/11/2008 09:15:00 AM?





___________________________________

Answers.com also has an interesting article on altruism_in_animals, which makes some pretty convincing arguments that it exists in nature. - Damien
-----------------------------------
Yes he increases the chance he genes will survive to the next generation, but

animals and primitive man

had no concept of genetic inheritance like we do. - damien
___________________________________





What kind of alturism are you talking about when it comes to "alturism_in_animals"

'real', 'psychological' alturism?

or

biological alturism?







___________________________________

‘real’ altruism, defined in terms of the agent's

conscious intentions to help others,

does make sense. (Sometimes the label ‘psychological altruism’ is used instead of ‘real’ altruism.) -Elliott Sober (1994) as quoted by Damien
-----------------------------------

Therefore, evolution may well lead ‘real’ or psychological altruism to evolve. - Elliott Sober (1994) as quoted by Damien
___________________________________







Is that why there have been more destructive wars as the human race evolved?


Because of the greater influence of 'real' or 'psychological alturism' or conscious intention to help others?


___________________________________

Wars are won by ruthlessness and never compassion. - Damien From the maddness of king leonard
thread
-----------------------------------
One strategy by which ‘selfish genes’ may increase their future representation is by causing humans to be non-selfish, in the psychological sense. - Elliott Sober (1994) as quoted by Damien
-----------------------------------
On the contrary, it is quite possible that natural selection would have favoured humans who genuinely do care about helping others, i.e., who are capable of ‘real’ or psychological altruism. - Elliott Sober (1994) as quoted by Damien
-----------------------------------
Wars are won by ruthlessness and never compassion. - Damien From the maddness of king leonard
thread
___________________________________





So you believe wars are won by ruthlessness and never compassion, because

you believe in 'real' or 'psychological' alturism?


or


are you contradicting yourself?





___________________________________

Suppose there is an evolutionary advantage associated with taking good care of

one's children — a quite plausible idea.

Then, parents who really do care about their childrens' welfare, i.e., who are ‘real’ altruists, will have a higher inclusive fitness, hence spread more of their genes, than parents who only pretend to care, or who do not care. - Elliott Sober (1994) as quoted by Damien
___________________________________





How many parents care more about their own children than others' children?


and those paretns who care more about their children than others' children,

are they necessarily being merely 'real', 'psychological' alturists?


or



are they primarily being alturistic in biological sense?






___________________________________

Suppose there is an evolutionary advantage associated with taking good care of one's children — a quite plausible idea. Then, parents who really do care about their childrens' welfare, i.e., who are ‘real’ altruists,... - Elliott Sober (1994) as quoted by Damien
___________________________________




Hold a second! These parents who really do care about their childrens' welfare....


do they care about their childrens' welfare because the children are their own?


or


do they care about others' childrens' welfare just as much they care about their own?



and if former, then are they really being 'real' 'psychological' alturists

or

biological alturists?





___________________________________

Suppose there is an evolutionary advantage associated with taking good care of one's children — a quite plausible idea.

Then, parents who really do care about their childrens' welfare, i.e., who are ‘real’ altruists, will have a higher inclusive fitness, hence spread more of their genes, than parents who only pretend to care, or who do not care.

Therefore, evolution may well lead ‘real’ or psychological altruism to evolve. - Elliott Sober (1994) as quoted by Damien
-----------------------------------

Where human behaviour is concerned, the distinction between biological altruism, defined in terms of fitness consequences, and ‘real’ altruism, defined in terms of the agent's conscious intentions to help others, does make sense. (Sometimes the label ‘psychological altruism’ is used instead of ‘real’ altruism.)


What is the relationship between these two concepts?

They[biological alturism vs. 'real','psychological' alturism] appear to be independent in

both directions, as Elliott Sober (1994) has argued.



An action performed with the conscious intention of helping another human being may not affect their biological fitness at all, so would not count as altruistic in the biological sense.


Conversely, an action undertaken for purely self-interested reasons, i.e., without the conscious intention of helping another, may boost their biological fitness tremendously. - as Elliott Sober (1994) quoted by Damien
___________________________________





Are you engaging in sophistry?

or

merely confused?



In one paragraph, you quote Sober that biological alturism and 'real', 'psychological' alturism

appear to be independent in both directions.

Yet, in another paragraph, you quote even if one takes an evolutionary approach (biological alturism approach),

the human race will end up with 'real', 'psychological' alturism!