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Author Topic:   morality, charity according to evolution
kuresu
Member (Idle past 2590 days)
Posts: 2544
From: boulder, colorado
Joined: 03-24-2006


Message 1 of 243 (310044)
05-07-2006 4:53 PM


In the Biological evolution forum, the topic "intended mutations" ended up into a partial debate about how morality and charity fit in with the evolutionary model.
Nemesis Juggernaut said, paraphrasing it, that our social nature has nothing to do with evolution.
I refuted this, but he stuck with his original position. Since it was off-topic in that thread, I'd like to open it up into a new thread.
So, we developed the ability to play music in order to procreate? That makes no sense to me, but for now I'll oblige. Okay, then what happens once you gain a memeber of the opposite sex to procreate with? What social event usually follows this? Marriage. And where does marriage fit into the evolutionary paradigm, when it would be much more wise for me (from an evolutionary point of view) to procreate with as many females as I can. Lets think of the social disaster that would befall all of mankind if we turned animalistic by copulating with any and every female that walked by.
-NJ
marriage easily fits in. we are not the only species to mate for life. Swans are the only other ones I can think of off the top of my head, but I'm sure others can add some. Now then, how does it fit in with evolution?
It fits in because it provides a continual partner. Instead of having to duke it out with all the rest, I've got a mate that I can count on for reproductive success for my life (under normal circumstances, not counting things like divorce).
So, you take care of dying people so that you can score with chicks who like the sensitive type of guys? That's why we've evolved into philanthropy and playing music? That doesn't make a whit of sense to me whatsoever and that is pure conjecture.
-NJ
It's not conjecture. Let's take a look at our relative species. We have neoteny. In other words, we keep our juvenile characteristics. THis makes us look gentler. I don't know about you, but an adult, male gorilla or chimp are much more fierce looking than when they are young. It may not make sense to you because I'm not the greatest at explaining this feature of evolution.
however, somehow my speaking about music and philanthropy countering the evolutionary model, was turned into people working together to survive. The two are not in any sense synonymous with one another
-NJ
Isn't survival what evolution is all about? You know, surviving so that you can reproduce and have offspring. Working together to survive increases your reproductive success because you live longer and have more oppurtunities to procreate. Just becasue you cannot see how this is so does not mean that this is not so.

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Message 2 of 243 (310213)
05-08-2006 7:12 AM


Thread moved here from the Proposed New Topics forum.

  
ikabod
Member (Idle past 4570 days)
Posts: 365
From: UK
Joined: 03-13-2006


Message 3 of 243 (310221)
05-08-2006 7:44 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by kuresu
05-07-2006 4:53 PM


while you might struggle to justifie the ability to make music as a positive benifit in our evolution , it is not a negative characteristic , the ability to play music does not lower survial rates .( ok no rock n roll life style jokes please )
so you can readly say its just a thing we can do , a by product of other selected characteristics ... any way not every one can make music .. i have very very little skill.
Morality and charity work to create a stabile , safe , and supportive enviorment in which to breed and bring up off spring .
Humans change the enviroment not only by wearing cloths vs heat / cold , carring supplies , building , farming , domesticasting but by creating codes of behaviour , law and justice , charity and morality... when these are in place and work together ther make up the most suitable eco nitch for humans ..allowing us the live from artic to desert to shoreline . This is the evolutionary addvantage standing high and clear .
look at life in areas where morality and charity are lacking ..how well do people survive there ??

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jar
Member
Posts: 34047
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 5.7


Message 4 of 243 (310253)
05-08-2006 9:36 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by kuresu
05-07-2006 4:53 PM


Some random thoughts.
On Marriage.
Marriage has only recently become one man and one woman, and even today it is not really that. Today it's more like faithful as long as I think I'll get caught.
If we look at history of sexuality we find an even greater range of interaction than you find in most of the rest of the animal kingdoms. You find instances of women having many husbands, men having many wives, monogamous long term relationships and numerous short term relationships. If the Naked Ape called mankind is any different from the other animals, and in particular the other Primates, it is in the fact that the man-woman social connection definitely shows evolution in form over time, area, culture and even individual.
On Music
Music too is certainly not a uniquely human creation. And recent studies have hinted at a connection between the invention of music and the invention of language.

Aslan is not a Tame Lion

This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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Hyroglyphx
Inactive Member


Message 5 of 243 (310300)
05-08-2006 1:16 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by kuresu
05-07-2006 4:53 PM


The evolution of morality
quote:
marriage easily fits in. It fits in because it provides a continual partner. Instead of having to duke it out with all the rest, I've got a mate that I can count on for reproductive success for my life (under normal circumstances, not counting things like divorce).
I think this argument is incredibly asinine because of all of your presumptions are based off what you have tried to logically surmise. In other words, its unfounded and purely speculative. This whole thing that humans want to procreate because of biological evolution is fanciful at best and is dashed to pieces when you factor in how many people don't want to get pregnant or have their partner get pregnant. Furthermore, there is no corroborating evidence that would suggest that a person respects the fact that you are married. How many extra-marital affairs occur every day? Quite a lot. You are trying turn humans into animals when the plain fact is there is such a vast difference between the two, I feel there is no need to try and assimilate them.
quote:
It's not conjecture. Let's take a look at our relative species. We have neoteny.
Charity and morals fit absolutely nowhere in a Darwinian sense. Darwinian evolution is ALL about competition. Taking care of such people, unsuring their survival with no incentive is entirely philanthropic. Its a wonderful thing. I believe it to be Divinely inspired, but it simply runs counter to Darwinism. You're just guessing what you think seems logical, but what empirical evidence supports what you're saying? You keep mentioning animals as if they are on par with humans, which they are clearly not.
quote:
Isn't survival what evolution is all about? You know, surviving so that you can reproduce and have offspring.
Helping your competitors fits nowhere in Darwinian evolution, in fact, it completely undermines it. To claim otherwise is about as asinine as justifying rape, claiming that they are simply following their biological urges.
Honestly, how have you come to such a low estimation about life?

This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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Chiroptera
Inactive Member


Message 6 of 243 (310304)
05-08-2006 1:29 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by Hyroglyphx
05-08-2006 1:16 PM


Re: The evolution of morality
quote:
Darwinian evolution is ALL about competition.
Actually, Darwinian evolution is all about reproductive success. If you have 10 individuals who are cooperating and helping each other, then they will presumably be more likely to survive and produce surviving progeny than 10 individuals who are hyper-competing with one another. In that case, the next generation will have more individuals with genes that produce altruistic behavior.

"Religion is the best business to be in. It's the only one where the customers blame themselves for product failure."
-- Ellis Weiner (quoted on the NAiG message board)

This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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Hyroglyphx
Inactive Member


Message 7 of 243 (310305)
05-08-2006 1:31 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by jar
05-08-2006 9:36 AM


Re: Some random thoughts.
quote:
Marriage has only recently become one man and one woman
Recent? What do you consider recent?
quote:
If we look at history of sexuality we find an even greater range of interaction than you find in most of the rest of the animal kingdoms.
Not really. In most species there is no ryhme or reason to their procreation affinities. They have multiple partners with whatever they want. Its purely instinctual. They get an urge, they go for what is around. Dogs hump peoples legs and hump shoes. Is that because they have some reason for doing so? The only viable reason is they have an urge to procreate. That's the extent of it. There isn't some evolutionary throwback allowing some penchant to hump legs and shoes.
quote:
Music too is certainly not a uniquely human creation. And recent studies have hinted at a connection between the invention of music and the invention of language.
Animals speak their own language too. Why don't they play music?

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Hyroglyphx
Inactive Member


Message 8 of 243 (310311)
05-08-2006 1:38 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by Chiroptera
05-08-2006 1:29 PM


Re: The evolution of morality
quote:
individuals who are cooperating and helping each other, then they will presumably be more likely to survive
So, helping a man in a coma is going to affect your likelihood of survival? No. Human beings help other human beings because they have a conscience. There is an innate quality to help those injured. And that empathic quality cannot be explained by Darwinian evolution.

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Coragyps
Member (Idle past 812 days)
Posts: 5553
From: Snyder, Texas, USA
Joined: 11-12-2002


Message 9 of 243 (310313)
05-08-2006 1:39 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by Hyroglyphx
05-08-2006 1:31 PM


Re: Some random thoughts.
Why don't they play music?
Uhhhh.....you've never heard of a bird? Or a humpback whale?

This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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Chiroptera
Inactive Member


Message 10 of 243 (310318)
05-08-2006 1:46 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by Hyroglyphx
05-08-2006 1:38 PM


Re: The evolution of morality
quote:
So, helping a man in a coma is going to affect your likelihood of survival? No.
Indeed not. But the non-specific drive for general altruistic behavior developed because it compels the individuals to assist others who would usually then reciprocate at some point. But this non-specific drive is just that, very non-specific, and, in the case of humans (who have an exceptionally strong capacity for learned behavior) can also express itself in situations that do not have a direct survival advantage. This is not unique to humans -- most instincts in non-human animals can be used to develop unnatural behaviors in those individuals. And of course modern human civilization creates many more novel situations for which the basic "instinctual" human behavior was not originally developed.

"Religion is the best business to be in. It's the only one where the customers blame themselves for product failure."
-- Ellis Weiner (quoted on the NAiG message board)

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jar
Member
Posts: 34047
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 5.7


Message 11 of 243 (310322)
05-08-2006 1:55 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by Hyroglyphx
05-08-2006 1:31 PM


Re: Some random thoughts.
jar writes:
Marriage has only recently become one man and one woman
to which nemesis_juggernaut replied
Recent? What do you consider recent?
Well, you're right. It really hasn't ever been one man and one woman. At best in the US and most other places what is seen is a short term monagamy and serial couplings. Mankind has never really adopted the kind of monagamous long term relationships that are found in many species of other animals like swans or Great Horned Owls.
Animals speak their own language too. Why don't they play music?
They don't? That's news to me. Ever hear a Mockingbird?

Aslan is not a Tame Lion

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macaroniandcheese 
Suspended Member (Idle past 4005 days)
Posts: 4258
Joined: 05-24-2004


Message 12 of 243 (310331)
05-08-2006 2:41 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by Hyroglyphx
05-08-2006 1:16 PM


Re: The evolution of morality
our competitors are other species. we want our own species to survive. it is evolutionarily accurate to assist those in our social group. if we help them, their existence will help ensure ours.
simply because we now avoid pregnancy has no bearing on our evolutionary roots. we have of late separated ourselves from our animal selves. this means nothing.

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crashfrog
Member (Idle past 1544 days)
Posts: 19762
From: Silver Spring, MD
Joined: 03-20-2003


Message 13 of 243 (310332)
05-08-2006 2:48 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by Hyroglyphx
05-08-2006 1:38 PM


Re: The evolution of morality
So, helping a man in a coma is going to affect your likelihood of survival? No.
You save the lives of two of your brothers, at the cost of your own. Based on the likelyhood of how many genes you share with them, you just doubled the number of your genes in the world compared to if you had let them die.
It's called "kin selection." In some circumstances the loss of your own life can pass on more of your genes, through your relatives, than if you were to survive at the cost of your own life.
And, too - what kind of sociopath are you that you can't see the benefit, for everybody, of cooperation? Does it really seem illogical to you that two heads are better than one? That cooperation for mutual benefit is better than short-sighted competition? Do I have to break out the game theory to prove something that should be immediately obvious?
Human beings help other human beings because they have a conscience. There is an innate quality to help those injured.
So, crimes never occur? People are never taken advantage of by other people?
You've never lied? Cheated? Stolen pens from work?

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Quetzal
Member (Idle past 5949 days)
Posts: 3228
Joined: 01-09-2002


Message 14 of 243 (310348)
05-08-2006 3:22 PM
Reply to: Message 12 by macaroniandcheese
05-08-2006 2:41 PM


Re: The evolution of morality
our competitors are other species. we want our own species to survive.
Hi Brenna,
I'm not sure I agree completely with you here (hey, there's a first time for everything...). However, it may simply be the way this was phrased. I would argue that, outside of parasites, virii and microbial disease-causing organisms we as a species aren't actually in competition with any other. At least not at the species level. Our greatest competitors since the end Pleistocene and the rise of agriculture, is H. sapiens. Intra- and inter-group competition has been the main selection pressure on us for ~10,000 years. It's a cultural affect, rather than a biological one.
The second issue I have with the way you wrote this is I think it may be stretching it to talk of the good of the species (i.e., "we want our species to survive"). I'm not sure you can make a case for either a cultural or biological imperative of this nature. We tend to be altruistic towards our extended family by biology (kin selection). Humans have evolved from that point to transfer this altruism to a greater or lesser extent to larger groupings (a form of group selection) such as tribe, nation, etc. I don't think we are (yet?) evolved to the point where we can transfer kin-selected altruistic behaviors to the species as a whole. Otherwise, why are we so adept at killing each other off in wholesale lots? Why are we apparently hell-bent on utterly destroying the biosphere on which our species depends for survival? Etc.
Just my thoughts.

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Coragyps
Member (Idle past 812 days)
Posts: 5553
From: Snyder, Texas, USA
Joined: 11-12-2002


Message 15 of 243 (310357)
05-08-2006 4:55 PM
Reply to: Message 14 by Quetzal
05-08-2006 3:22 PM


Re: The evolution of morality
My thoughts, too, Q. We differ from chimps and bonobos (and many other social species) in how widely we define "family." It was a few hundred people not that long ago - look at the Plains Indians tribes, for instance, most of whom seemed to think the were "The People" and all others were lesser beings. Like you say, we're up to nations or large subsets of them here in 2006, but we need to get better at spreading it out.

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