Re: virus: Selfishness

Tue, 23 Jul 1996 15:06:42 -0500

Tristen wrote:
>My point is only that Brodies' way of thinking could get one killed.
>WE THE PEOPLE are life forms.
>Life forms have NO CHIOCE but to form 'predator/prey' Natural Law competition.
>WE THE PEOPLE have formed a society that has given birth to predator/prey
>among ourselves.
>To think any different would be suicide.
>All this stems from my impression that Mr. Brodie is a pacifist.
>My impression of Mr.Brodie stems from Mr.Brodie ( what and how he writes ).
>I plead insanity if I erred in my prejudgement of Mr.Brodie.

I'm pretty sure Richard will make this point (he's made it in the past) but
I'll reiterate it (or 'preiterate' it as the case may be.) You've
described a perdator/prey dynamic that is a feature of human interactions.
It is a ubiquitous feature. This is a matter of historical and
sociological fact. No-one with any grasp on evolutionary psychology will
dispute what you've asserted up to this point.

Where a philosopher is likely to part company with you is in your move from
a statement of 'how things are' to a statement of 'how things should be.'
To derive a normative claim (a claim about what ought to be the case) from
a factual claim is to commit the naturalistic fallacy.

In other words, our genes have programmed our psychology at a very
fundemental level. They encourage us to maximize our own propagative
potential while decreasing that of our competetors. Consequently, that's
how people, when they are not conscious of that programming, behave.

Human rationality complicates things. When we understand the influence of
our genetic programming and the memetic programming we get during our
individual life cycles, we aquire the ability to change something which
had, up to that point, been behind the scenes from our conscious point of
view. When a previously invisible and inaccessible process comes within
the realm of our ability to perceive, understand, and influence it, we
aquire a new moral burden. Now that we understand the source of the
ubiquitous predetor/prey dynamic in human interaction and we have the
ability to change it, and the continuation of the dynamic becomes a matter
of conscious choice. Our conscious choices are the sort of things to which
normative judgements DO apply.

You claim, "Life forms have NO CHIOCE but to form 'predator/prey' Natural
Law competition." I agree insofar as you are talking about non-conscious
life froms. Consciousness changes things. In the past, our predatory
nature was not a matter of conscious choice and so we did not bear the
moral responsibility for it that we bear now that we have the knowledge and
the ability to choose.

Thanks for clarifying your points and for taking the time to read and
consider this alternate viewpoint. Take care. -KMO