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Author Topic:   morality, charity according to evolution
Omnivorous
Member
Posts: 4001
From: Adirondackia
Joined: 07-21-2005
Member Rating: 4.8


Message 226 of 243 (315283)
05-26-2006 10:00 AM
Reply to: Message 222 by Modulous
05-26-2006 9:16 AM


Re: Memitic evolution
However, it isn't just genes that can cause altruism, ideas can. A stirring speech can rally soldiers, a concept of martyrdom can inspire someone to kill themselves (for obvious reasons a gene of this type might not spread so easily). Memes are interesting (though many still reject them as replicating entities with differential reproductive success) and can explain less obvious points of culture such as charity, morality, music and jokes etc. All these things have probably have a genetic inspiration, but have been refined and altered in meme form.
I strongly agree, Modulous.
In an earlier altruism thread I suggested that we must look at culture to explain some specific forms of altruistic behavior. All we require evolutionarily is the capacity for any altruistic behavior, kinship or not: once the altruistic response is in our behavioral vocabulary, the proximate stimuli can vary widely. If cranes can do the funky chicken and bond with a man in a funny suit, we can enlarge our definition of kinship from cousin to stranger, from band to tribe to state--whether we can continue to enlarge that kinship may determine our survival.
The genetic potentiation of altruism continues to confer considerable benefit to the group whether the parameters remain kin-delimited or not. It seems to me that seeking a cost-benefit evolutionary justification for each instance of altruistic behavior is unnecessary and probably doomed to failure, since culture now mediates the capacity that evolution created. We can seek the evolutionary roots of altruistic behavior, and establish some of them with fair probability, but I doubt that specific acts can be reduced to selfish-gene algebra.
Like fight-or-flight responses on internet boards and fat-preferring palates in a fat-saturated world, our culture interacts with our genetic potential in contexts that sometimes differ dramatically from the environment in which that potential evolved. The parallel between the emergence of altruistic behavior and the evolution of new uses for old biological parts and systems is striking.

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kuresu
Member (Idle past 2591 days)
Posts: 2544
From: boulder, colorado
Joined: 03-24-2006


Message 227 of 243 (315438)
05-26-2006 3:02 PM


altruistic behovior doesn't require a high level of complexity, nor is it an anethema to evolution.
cosider the duck call that translates into "there's food here, it's good". why would the duck share its resources if natural selection supposedly favored the "dog eat dog" world? yay social creatures.

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Damouse
Member (Idle past 4983 days)
Posts: 215
From: Brookfield, Wisconsin
Joined: 12-18-2005


Message 228 of 243 (315493)
05-26-2006 8:09 PM
Reply to: Message 227 by kuresu
05-26-2006 3:02 PM


Pulling an "Adam Smith"
The duck still wants whats best for it and its offspring (hence the Adam Smith line), and therefor it will be as selfish as it needs to be. If having the rest of it's community live at the same standard as the lone duck is is beneficial, then there you go. On the other hand, whats society but a quid pro quo scenario?

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kuresu
Member (Idle past 2591 days)
Posts: 2544
From: boulder, colorado
Joined: 03-24-2006


Message 229 of 243 (315588)
05-27-2006 10:39 AM
Reply to: Message 228 by Damouse
05-26-2006 8:09 PM


Re: Pulling an "Adam Smith"
but why would the duck share it's resources, if it were being selfish?
the only answer I can think of is that it's being altruistic, because it is decreasing the total resources that he has, since others are now eating his food

All a man's knowledge comes from his experiences

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Belfry
Member (Idle past 5163 days)
Posts: 177
From: Ocala, FL
Joined: 11-05-2005


Message 230 of 243 (315604)
05-27-2006 12:16 PM
Reply to: Message 229 by kuresu
05-27-2006 10:39 AM


Re: Pulling an "Adam Smith"
kuresu writes:
but why would the duck share it's resources, if it were being selfish?
the only answer I can think of is that it's being altruistic, because it is decreasing the total resources that he has, since others are now eating his food
That assumes that resources are limiting for that individual. What about when there are excess resources? There comes a point where an increase in a particular resource (be it light, O2 or CO2, water, food, space, etc.) does not increase the ability of an individual to survive and reproduce. A single duck can not make full use of the resources in a large pond. In such cases, the benefits of social cooperation (such as alerting each other to predators) could far outweigh the negative effects of competition.

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kuresu
Member (Idle past 2591 days)
Posts: 2544
From: boulder, colorado
Joined: 03-24-2006


Message 231 of 243 (315635)
05-27-2006 3:16 PM
Reply to: Message 230 by Belfry
05-27-2006 12:16 PM


Re: Pulling an "Adam Smith"
in which case, all this social, moralism, charity, altruism, and whatnot make sense within the evolutionary paradigm. That's been my whole point in this thread, but thanks for the clarification if the duck's resources were unlimited (in terms of a single duck and his reproductive fitness)

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Belfry
Member (Idle past 5163 days)
Posts: 177
From: Ocala, FL
Joined: 11-05-2005


Message 232 of 243 (315642)
05-27-2006 4:22 PM
Reply to: Message 231 by kuresu
05-27-2006 3:16 PM


Re: Pulling an "Adam Smith"
Didn't mean to imply that you were arguing otherwise, kuresu - apologies if it seemed that way.

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Damouse
Member (Idle past 4983 days)
Posts: 215
From: Brookfield, Wisconsin
Joined: 12-18-2005


Message 233 of 243 (316449)
05-30-2006 11:41 PM
Reply to: Message 232 by Belfry
05-27-2006 4:22 PM


Re: Pulling an "Adam Smith"
i had meant to say that it was in the duck's best interests for the rest of the flock/species to feed too, selfish in the sense that if it weren't in the ducks best interests, he would not tell the rest of the flock.

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kuresu
Member (Idle past 2591 days)
Posts: 2544
From: boulder, colorado
Joined: 03-24-2006


Message 234 of 243 (324983)
06-22-2006 5:54 PM


Ants rule
I know we've beat this horse a bunch, but I just wanted to show you all another example. This time, we are going to look at ants. Yes, ants.
From livescience:
Researchers carefully analyzed the ants' movements and determined that the process is controlled by mutual feedback between the two gatherers. If the gap between them gets too large, the leader slows down and the follower speeds up. The opposite occurs if the gap becomes too small.
Studies have shown that bumblebees can learn to find food by watching others, and that chimpanzees can teach their mates how to get at food with a stick. But the researchers say this is the first non-human example of bidirectional feedback teaching”where both the teacher and pupil modify their behavior to provide guidance at a rate suitable for the pupil's abilities.
Here we have a leader ant (an adult) teaching the juvenile, and they're communicating with each other over the teaching. Almost like a teacher-parent conference type deal. But here's the kicker. The juvenile finds food about 100 hundred seconds faster with this help than the juveniles without this help. And, the adult crops to about one-fourth it's efficiency in finding food by helping the young ones learn how to find food. But, it's better for the colony this way.
And you all know what that means--we once again have a social network being beneficial--including this act of "charity". And so, once again, we have an example of how being charitable, altruistic, whatever, can aid in your species survival.

All a man's knowledge comes from his experiences

  
scoff
Member
Posts: 37
Joined: 01-20-2006


Message 235 of 243 (328938)
07-05-2006 11:44 AM
Reply to: Message 6 by Chiroptera
05-08-2006 1:29 PM


Re: The evolution of morality
Nemesis Juggernaut writes:
Darwinian evolution is ALL about competition.
Chiroptera writes:
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.
An article recently published at physorg.com supports the contention that competition isn't always the best survival strategy. A study which compared yeast cultures with different survival strategies (competition vs. cooperation) showed there is a long-term cost paid by the group which employed the competitive strategy.
"This evidence that a cooperative group can resist invasion by exploitative cheats is unexpected and gives us greater insight into how cooperation evolves. This is important because we live in a world in which cooperations exists at every level, from genes working together to build functioning individuals to individuals forming societies." wrote lead researcher Dr. Craig MacLean.
Linked below.
Survival of the selfless - scientists find cheats don't always prosper

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Chiroptera
Inactive Member


Message 236 of 243 (328947)
07-05-2006 12:03 PM
Reply to: Message 235 by scoff
07-05-2006 11:44 AM


Re: The evolution of morality
Interesting article, scoff, but:
quote:
This evidence that a cooperative group can resist invasion by exploitative cheats is unexpected....
I don't know for whom this was unexpected. It has been long known that real cooperative organisms can and do identify cheats and take action against them; I was reading about examples of this (as well as the theory behind this) over 15 years ago. I doubt that it was new then, either.
And, from the article,
This contradicts classic evolutionary theory....
Seeing how Darwin himself explained how cooperative behavior could be evolutionarily advantageous, "selfishness" has never been a part of "classic" evolutionary theory.
Interesting experiment, but the "hype" is a little overblown.
-
Incidently, the experiment does not seem to be addressing what one would think of as "classic cooperatation" -- in classic cooperation an individual will provide some benefit to another at some cost to itself. In the case of this experiment, the individual "cooperative" yeast is simply not poisoning itself with its own metabolic wastes, which only incidently is beneficial to the other individuals in the population. Nor are the "cheats" being identified and action taken against them; rather the "cheats" simply have characteristics that are in themselves disadvantageous.
Again, interesting experiment, but not, in my opinion, directly relevant to the question of "altruistic" behavior.

"These monkeys are at once the ugliest and the most beautiful creatures on the planet./ And the monkeys don't want to be monkeys; they want to be something else./ But they're not."
-- Ernie Cline

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scoff
Member
Posts: 37
Joined: 01-20-2006


Message 237 of 243 (328985)
07-05-2006 2:00 PM
Reply to: Message 236 by Chiroptera
07-05-2006 12:03 PM


Re: The evolution of morality
Chiroptera writes:
Again, interesting experiment, but not, in my opinion, directly relevant to the question of "altruistic" behavior.
I noticed the article made it sound more momentous a discovery than it actually was, but I figured I'd post it in support of the idea that competition was not the only available option among survival strategies. Not that it proves altruism but opens the door for its consideration as a viable alternative.
I guess a more accurate statement in my previous post would have been to write "competitive vs. non-competitve strategies".
Edited by scoff, : to add last sentence

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Hyroglyphx
Inactive Member


Message 238 of 243 (329492)
07-06-2006 8:46 PM
Reply to: Message 235 by scoff
07-05-2006 11:44 AM


Re: The evolution of morality
You're speaking about yeast as if there is some sort of cognizance behind their actions. And being that they are single-celled fungi, I highly doubt that they could possibly display any kind of reasoning ability beyond, "must eat."
Any kind of demonstrable evidence for true altruism would have to be kept within the animal kingdom to provide any reasonable basis for proving that morality follows any sort of evolution. That's my opinion anyhow. Call me crazy but I just don't see the profundity in the argument.

“Always be ready to give a defense to
everyone who asks you a reason for the
hope that is in you.”
-1st Peter 3:15

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Hyroglyphx
Inactive Member


Message 239 of 243 (329493)
07-06-2006 8:46 PM
Reply to: Message 235 by scoff
07-05-2006 11:44 AM


Re: The evolution of morality
An article recently published at physorg.com supports the contention that competition isn't always the best survival strategy. A study which compared yeast cultures with different survival strategies (competition vs. cooperation) showed there is a long-term cost paid by the group which employed the competitive strategy.
You're speaking about yeast as if there is some sort of cognizance behind their actions. And being that they are single-celled fungi, I highly doubt that they could possibly display any kind of reasoning ability beyond, "must eat."
Any kind of demonstrable evidence for true altruism would have to be kept within the animal kingdom to provide any reasonable basis for proving that morality follows any sort of evolution. That's my opinion anyhow. Call me crazy but I just don't see the profundity in the argument.

“Always be ready to give a defense to
everyone who asks you a reason for the
hope that is in you.”
-1st Peter 3:15

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RAZD
Member (Idle past 1483 days)
Posts: 20714
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004


Message 240 of 243 (365657)
11-23-2006 9:56 PM
Reply to: Message 239 by Hyroglyphx
07-06-2006 8:46 PM


The evolution of morality - and game theory.
You're speaking about yeast as if there is some sort of cognizance behind their actions. And being that they are single-celled fungi, I highly doubt that they could possibly display any kind of reasoning ability beyond, "must eat."
So rather than assign consciousness to the results, consider instead that this is like a computer trying innumerable solutions to the problem of whether competition or cooperation were more successful patterns for behavior.
Given that John Forbes Nash (the "beautiful mind" guy) showed that cooperation was the better pattern in game theory it is not surprising that such a "mindless" computer program would reach the same "conclusion" through brute computations.
He got a nobel prize for it too.
Nash equilibrium - Wikipedia
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