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

Martz (
Wed, 23 Apr 1997 00:08:29 +0100

On Tue, 22 Apr 1997, "Wright, James 7929" <> wrote:

>>>You appear to hold that all behavior is necessarily survival-based;[JW]
>>Not 'necessarily'. I just find it to be the simplest solution and
>>therefore it is the one I choose to accept in the absence of evidence to
>>the contrary. <
>It seemed to me, initially, that you had ruled out any possibility of the

I thought I'd been careful to state in my first post on the subject that
I considered it unprovable either way and was merely expressing opinion.
I've also tried to reiterate that where appropriate.

>>Can you answer the question I asked? If you can convince
>>me that true altruism doesn't undermine survival I'll be more inclined
>>to accept that it *may* have evolved.<
>Actually, no; from your point of view, motive is a factor in all
>behavior; survival-motive is the "simplest and therefore the one I choose
>to accept....". But motive is unprovable; your question appears to
>become, "Show me that something I do not accept conveys an advantage,
>even though a basic part of its definition is that no advantage accrues
>to the practicioner and the motive involved cannot be proven

Read the question again. It doesn't have to convey an advantage but show
me that it isn't actually detrimental (I know I asked the question in
both forms but that's the one you've quoted back at me).

<snip example of non-detrimental 'altruism'>

I would say that the giver in this example *is* disadvantaged by his
act. He could have sold the food or found some other way of storing it's
value against future needs.

>>>Why shouldn't there be selfless
>>No reason, unless they are disadvantageous to survival. If so, then they
>>will be a short-lived phenomena should they ever arrive (which I accept
>>we may be in the midst of at the moment - in which case people taking my
>>stance are essential to the survival of the species 8). Woohoo, a reson
>>for being at last).<<
>Hope this doesn't burst your bubble; survival of ANY species is not
>essential, except to that species.

I never said survival was essential to anything, I said the attitude
was essential to survival.

>Your search for a reason for being,
>external to yourself, is interesting: why do you need such?

That was humour, hence the Homer Simpson style "Woohoo". It was a parody
of my real opinion which you seem to share. When it comes to a reason
for existence there is only me.


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