RE: virus: Altruism, Empathy, the Superorganism, and the Priso

Wright, James 7929 (
Mon, 28 Apr 97 08:43:00 EDT

Actually, Lee addressed my arguments when he wrote:
> Martz wrote:
>> >You seem to assume that self-interest and cooperation are mutually
>> >exclusive. That is not so.<
>> You appear to hold a different definition. If self-interest is doing

>> things specifically in the interest of one person (oneself), then how
>> aiding anyone else be considered self-interest?
>> [Gazelle example omitted]
>> You have indeed re-defined self-interest to include the concerns of
>> others; this to me IS cooperation, not self-interest. It would be in
>> self-interest to capture the gazelle myself, without involving you at

>> all; I would get a greater amount of meat that way.

>You weren't listening. In the example given, the fact of reality that
>one /cannot/ capture the gazelle alone was a premise, and you can't
>change that.

Want to invoke the Reed principle? I *AM* arguing the premise; you CAN
catch a gazelle, all by yourself, it just takes lion tactics, or a snare,
or a couple of different other methods (archery, etc.)

>Reality is like that in many places: there exist millions
>of ways to benefit yourself by cooperating and /incidentally/ benefiting
>others that simply /cannot/ be done alone. This is a fact, and can't
>be argued away.

This is not, however, self-interest, unless you change the definition of
self-interest, IMO.

>I cannot build my own car--I don't have that choice.<

Henry Ford did. The production line came later.

>And even if I did, it would probably be cheaper for me in terms of my
>time to just buy it, thereby incidentally benefiting its manufacturer.
>But I don't buy it with the purpose of filling Mr. Iacocca's pockets;
>I buy it with the purpose of driving to work to fill mine, and only
>mine. The fact that I aided someone else was just a consequence.<

You have now shifted the focus of the argument from the self-interested
survival of oneself and one's children to the relative economic
advantages of cooperation, which I never disputed in the first place.

>In a computer simulation the idea is clearer: ....<

This wanders even farther from the original argument, and also begs the
question of garbage in, garbage out - the results of any computer
simulation will depend heavily on the weighting given various factors in
the program.
Lee, I never said cooperation wasn't a good thing - were you paying
attention to the original discussion? We were discussing whether
self-interest was sympathetic or antagonistic towards cooperation - and
economics had no part of the original discussion. I am not being
obstinate, but it seemed like you brought a whole new set or parameters
to the discussion, while complaining that I had no appreciation of the
point of view you brought with them.