Re: virus: Altruism, Empathy, the Superorganism, and the Priso ner's Dillema

Martz (
Sat, 19 Apr 1997 11:54:28 +0100

On Fri, 18 Apr 1997, "Wright, James 7929" <> wrote:
>Reed wrote:
>>Are we really going to get into an argument over definitions again?<
>I hope not;
>>Are you willing to accept, as a possibility that altruism, as you have
>defined it, >doesn't exist? <
>Only as a possibility; I have seen many examples of such behavior, read
>about many more, and disproof of its existence would require
>documentation of the deliberate deception/malice/conspiracy of quite a
>few people. Presumably, at least ONE of them was displaying true
>Albert Schweitzer - Mother Teresa - Mohandas Gandhi - Gotama Shakyamuni -
>Dalai Lama - etc.

Unfortunately I think the burden of proof rests on the position that an
unselfishness exists. For every apparently unselfish act I can give you
a possibly selfish motivation. The documentation you refer to above
wouldn't prove my case, nor does its absence prove yours, and
presumption doesn't follow. It can be shown that the *appearance* of
altruism may confer a survival advantage, can you show me how true
unselfishness would convey any better an advantage? In fact I'm not
convinced that it wouldn't convey a pronounced *disadvantage*.


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