Policing the people

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Re: Policing the people

Post by dblboggie on Wed Apr 13, 2011 9:54 pm

The_Amber_Spyglass wrote:Well you have changed your tune a bit since the beginning when you said that human constructs have been used to create the idea of the greater good and that laws are necessary for this. Now you are saying that self-interest can be realised through group interest?

I have maintained from the beginning that this dichotomy between selfish and selfless has driven evolution. Why you chose to interpret "dichotomy" to mean "war" when I meant "trade off" or "compromise" I can't even begin to figure out.

I guess I just felt that you believed that selfish and selfless impulses existed at the very beginning of life and I can not see how this could possibly be. I believe that selfless impulses would have been an outgrowth eventually "learning" (evolutionary development) that self-interest could be satisfied through cooperation and altruism.

Now, I will be the first to admit that I have absolutely ZERO proof of this and zip citations I could provide for it. But it would seem to me that the planet's first life would be concerned primarily with survival of self above all else, and that this urge to survive would gradually evolve more complex and successful methods of survival involving cooperation and altruism and would expand that concept of survival out beyond just self and into the species as being important.

I hope I'm expressing what is in my head clearly. It's quite clear I know precious little about evolution on any deep level.

The_Amber_Spyglass wrote:Self-interest motivates the individiual, sure. But you are still ignoring that humans have indulged in group co-operation for which there was no immediate benefit. For evolution and continuation of species, co-operation is necessary to ensure genetic diversity within the group:

Click here!

And here!

Here, the authors discuss the expectation of fairness even when there is a cost to the person doing the punishing... "cutting off your nose to spite your face".

As I said, Darwin recognised this and studies such as those above confirms it. If you find Victorian naturalists a little too heavy for your tastes, then Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion and Daniel Dennett in Breaking the Spell.

But while there may have been not any immediate benefit, would there not have been some perceived future benefit that drove that co-operative behavior?

And it could well be my question is answered in one of the cites you give above, but I've not yet had a chance to read them so please forgive if the answer is there.

The_Amber_Spyglass wrote:Arguably you are engaging in just this sort of behaviour on the other thread. You are complaining about people who pay nothing into the tax system while taking out. You expect people to act fairly within the system while you perceive that you act fairly yourself. You have nothing to personally gain from getting the terminally lazy off of unemployment and into work yet you feel you are losing out. As this act is not illegal, I can only assume that you are expecting those people to do their bit "for the greater good" of the US economy. Is your motive selfish? Or is it born out of a sense of communal justice?

You've already answered my response to this bit. Let me just say that in reading your cites on "The Tragedy of the Commons" and "The Evolution of Morality" I have learned things that I did not previously know. That alone has made this thread very worthwhile to me. It has indeed induced me to reexamine previously held opinions on the subject of cooperation and morality and has actually changed my thinking on it. So for that, you are due some kudos!

I won't say that I've been completely convinced, but you are making an excellent case for your position. Thumbs Up
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Re: Policing the people

Post by dblboggie on Wed Apr 13, 2011 10:08 pm

The_Amber_Spyglass wrote:You are expecting fairness from others in your group (in this case your fellow countrymen) for the greater good. This is not personal gain, but survival and success of the whole along evolutionary principles above the importance of a single individual.

If it was identified that there was just a single person in your country who was milking the system, I'm guessing your complaint would be just as vociferous. In such a case, your personal loss would be so insignificant as not to be noticeable yet your sense of injustice would be as justified. Your personal gain from getting that person off the system would be equally as insignificant. I appreciate that you are busy but please read these studies, even if you do so in the summer break and come back to it then.

I see your point, and actually I cannot say that you are at all wrong. And I will download those studies and I promise that I will get to them.

The_Amber_Spyglass wrote:
dblboggie wrote:and I would happily sacrifice a fair degree of discomfort in seeking that survival for the greater good.
And you are proving my point with that. "Personal discomfort for the greater good" above what you might personally gain from being a taker rather than a contributor.

You know, I realized that I was proving your point even as I typed that, but that is actually what I would do. I would suffer for the greater good. I guess I am actually handing you this one... Snicker

What can I say... there is so very, very much that I don't know and so damn much to learn; I'm learning as fast as I can. I will say that your cites are helpful, so don't hesitate to continue with them. I just have limited time to devote to them right now. But I have a folder on my hard drive for such things so I can get to them when I can.
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Re: Policing the people

Post by The_Amber_Spyglass on Thu Apr 14, 2011 7:37 am

dblboggie wrote:I guess I just felt that you believed that selfish and selfless impulses existed at the very beginning of life and I can not see how this could possibly be.
We would have no way of knowing that. Maybe eukaryotes do know compassion, but we may never find out. What perhaps I should have made clear is that such behaviour evolved over time as we became more social. It could be that evolution has misfired or it could be an inevitable trait of more social creatures. Evolutionary biologists see it as a conundrum to be solved. All I know is that I won't accept 'god did it' as the answer Very Happy

dblboggie wrote:I believe that selfless impulses would have been an outgrowth eventually "learning" (evolutionary development) that self-interest could be satisfied through cooperation and altruism.
That is probably the way things ought to be, and as I said there may be a case that our evolution (which is jury rigged enough already) has overkilled, failed to be removed by natural selection because we have no predators, and led us to expand that altruism beyond our immediate kin group.

dblboggie wrote:Now, I will be the first to admit that I have absolutely ZERO proof of this and zip citations I could provide for it. But it would seem to me that the planet's first life would be concerned primarily with survival of self above all else, and that this urge to survive would gradually evolve more complex and successful methods of survival involving cooperation and altruism and would expand that concept of survival out beyond just self and into the species as being important.
Complexity in and of itself is no guarantee of this, after all the genetic code of the flat worm is more complex than the human genetic code, but clearly mammals are social creatures, as are some birds and reptiles.

[quote="dblboggie"I hope I'm expressing what is in my head clearly. It's quite clear I know precious little about evolution on any deep level. [/quote]
Absolutely but unfortunately your error is common misconception. Even people who accept evolution and claim to understand it are prone to these errors.

dblboggie wrote:But while there may have been not any immediate benefit, would there not have been some perceived future benefit that drove that co-operative behavior?
Hindsight is a wonderful thing isn't it? Thinking specifically now to the Neolithic Revolution (where humanity moved from a hunter-gatherer subsistence to the first agriculture) I believe that the benefits of this system never really materialised for a long time. We saw no increase in longevity, yield or access to food. We'd been hunter-gathering for millions of years. If anything, food had become more abundant as a result of the retreat of the glaciers. There was no immediate benefit to farming. Or maybe I'm barking up the wrong tree and there was the perception of benefit that was never realised. Or, maybe the opposite and in as contradictory as it may seem, that food was so abundant that there was no longer any reason to remain on the move.

dblboggie wrote:You've already answered my response to this bit. Let me just say that in reading your cites on "The Tragedy of the Commons" and "The Evolution of Morality" I have learned things that I did not previously know. That alone has made this thread very worthwhile to me. It has indeed induced me to reexamine previously held opinions on the subject of cooperation and morality and has actually changed my thinking on it. So for that, you are due some kudos!

I won't say that I've been completely convinced, but you are making an excellent case for your position. Thumbs Up
Thank you very much. But if you find anything that you feel blows all of my articles out of the water, as ever I would be willing to look at it.
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Re: Policing the people

Post by The_Amber_Spyglass on Thu Apr 14, 2011 7:58 am

dblboggie wrote:What can I say... there is so very, very much that I don't know and so damn much to learn; I'm learning as fast as I can. I will say that your cites are helpful, so don't hesitate to continue with them. I just have limited time to devote to them right now.
The first two papers I have read before when I was studying a module in my third year on the collapse of complex societies. Although it was obviously focussed on the archaeological changes, it also studied a lot of theory on anthropology and psychology. The third paper I found last night and skimmed it through then.

dblboggie wrote:But I have a folder on my hard drive for such things so I can get to them when I can.
Honestly, no rush
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Re: Policing the people

Post by dblboggie on Thu Apr 14, 2011 10:19 pm

The_Amber_Spyglass wrote:
dblboggie wrote:I guess I just felt that you believed that selfish and selfless impulses existed at the very beginning of life and I can not see how this could possibly be.
We would have no way of knowing that. Maybe eukaryotes do know compassion, but we may never find out. What perhaps I should have made clear is that such behaviour evolved over time as we became more social. It could be that evolution has misfired or it could be an inevitable trait of more social creatures. Evolutionary biologists see it as a conundrum to be solved. All I know is that I won't accept 'god did it' as the answer Very Happy

Well on that point we can agree. Thumbs Up

The_Amber_Spyglass wrote:
dblboggie wrote:I believe that selfless impulses would have been an outgrowth eventually "learning" (evolutionary development) that self-interest could be satisfied through cooperation and altruism.
That is probably the way things ought to be, and as I said there may be a case that our evolution (which is jury rigged enough already) has overkilled, failed to be removed by natural selection because we have no predators, and led us to expand that altruism beyond our immediate kin group.


Could very well be... though I certainly cannot say with any authority. It just seems only logical to me that self-interest has always been the driver. The written historical record seems to militate in that direction when it comes to homo sapiens.

The_Amber_Spyglass wrote:
dblboggie wrote:Now, I will be the first to admit that I have absolutely ZERO proof of this and zip citations I could provide for it. But it would seem to me that the planet's first life would be concerned primarily with survival of self above all else, and that this urge to survive would gradually evolve more complex and successful methods of survival involving cooperation and altruism and would expand that concept of survival out beyond just self and into the species as being important.
Complexity in and of itself is no guarantee of this, after all the genetic code of the flat worm is more complex than the human genetic code, but clearly mammals are social creatures, as are some birds and reptiles.

I wasn't referring to the complexity of genetic code but rather was implying that survival strategies would grow more complex as life evolved. To be quite honest, I have no clue what the complexity of the genetic code has on intellectual or cognitive abilities - or even if there is a relation there.

The_Amber_Spyglass wrote:
dblboggie wrote:I hope I'm expressing what is in my head clearly. It's quite clear I know precious little about evolution on any deep level.
Absolutely but unfortunately your error is common misconception. Even people who accept evolution and claim to understand it are prone to these errors.

Given that I have never studied evolution (or creationism), I'll take that as a net gain on my part. You have to remember that I was last in school in the very early '70's... and I'm less that a year into my college education... so give me some time.

The_Amber_Spyglass wrote:
dblboggie wrote:But while there may have been not any immediate benefit, would there not have been some perceived future benefit that drove that co-operative behavior?
Hindsight is a wonderful thing isn't it? Thinking specifically now to the Neolithic Revolution (where humanity moved from a hunter-gatherer subsistence to the first agriculture) I believe that the benefits of this system never really materialised for a long time. We saw no increase in longevity, yield or access to food. We'd been hunter-gathering for millions of years. If anything, food had become more abundant as a result of the retreat of the glaciers. There was no immediate benefit to farming. Or maybe I'm barking up the wrong tree and there was the perception of benefit that was never realised. Or, maybe the opposite and in as contradictory as it may seem, that food was so abundant that there was no longer any reason to remain on the move.

Snicker Yes... hindsight is indeed a wonderful thing. But what I would really be interested in is how we can determine the veracity of the claims that farming was or was not beneficial. I mean, it's not like we were there or that these people left a written record. And while I realize that archeological remains can tell us much, I suspect that motives are far more difficult to discern from said remains.

The_Amber_Spyglass wrote:
dblboggie wrote:You've already answered my response to this bit. Let me just say that in reading your cites on "The Tragedy of the Commons" and "The Evolution of Morality" I have learned things that I did not previously know. That alone has made this thread very worthwhile to me. It has indeed induced me to reexamine previously held opinions on the subject of cooperation and morality and has actually changed my thinking on it. So for that, you are due some kudos!

I won't say that I've been completely convinced, but you are making an excellent case for your position. Thumbs Up
Thank you very much. But if you find anything that you feel blows all of my articles out of the water, as ever I would be willing to look at it.

You are quite welcome. And you can be sure that I would gladly post anything that might refute your case... but I suspect that there are no truly credible scientific studies that are going to differ greatly from what you've posted thus far. Naturally, I could be wrong.
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