Re: [Bulk] Re: Objective morality?

From: micah glasser (
Date: Sat Aug 26 2006 - 11:31:25 MDT

Both memetic and genetic natural selection are inextricably interrelated.
The homo-sapien cognitive architecture substrate results from the genetic
natural selection of all human ancestry. This architecture defined the
original social organization (mortality) of our primate forbears. Memetic
natural selection comes into play and dominates the evolutionary replication
process with the arrival of language (especially written language). However
memes cannot remain successful replicators if they do not aid in the
survival of the host's genes. For this reason memetic fitness is mostly a
function of societies and not persons. A memetically fit cultural ethos is
an ethos that can efficiently organize a society so that it can successfully
compete against other societies for resources. With out a memetically fit
ethos (morality) a society/culture degenerates and sufferers form being
either absorbed by a more memetically fit culture or that society/culture
will suffer from memo/genocide. In the past more monolithic cultures would
label any behaviour that does not conform to that cultures ethos as
"immoral". And in many cases such persons would be put to death for their
These facts might lead one to the conclusion that morality both arises from,
and acts upon, genetic evolution. Additionally one might conclude that
"morality" is in a state of evolution -constantly changing as certain memes
become more or less fit according to the pressures of natural selection.

On 8/26/06, Keith Henson <> wrote:
> At 08:49 AM 8/25/2006 -0700, you wrote:
> >On Fri, 25 Aug 2006, Keith Henson wrote:
> >
> >>Humans have a sense of what is moral. Like all such psychological
> traits
> >>it is the result of evolution.
> >>
> >>On that basis, one can predict that what we consider moral is that which
> >>is good for the survival of our genes or a side effect of evolution in
> >>hunter gatherer bands where the people around us tended to be related
> >>(inclusive fitness).
> >
> >With humans you have to look beyond genes. While many animals have some
> >degree of learning from others, humans have taken this to an extreme.
> What you say here invokes the SSSM, the standard social science model.
> >Most
> >react with more horror to the burning of the library of Alexandria than
> to
> >any given war in history.
> I would venture to say that most have never heard of the library of
> Alexandria, sad as that might be.
> >Our knowledge and its transmission is now much more
> >important than individual genetic variation. A genetically "unfit"
> >individual with the right knowledge is much more fit than a genetically
> >"perfect" individual who is ignorant.
> >
> >We are rapidly heading toward making our genes completely irrelevant,
> even
> >now gene therapy is available. We are no longer a species that depends on
> >the genes of ancestors.
> That true, but unrelated to the point of how we came to have a sense of
> what is moral.
> >The disgust with the burning of the library of Alexandria gives a good
> >hint of the current basis of morality. Its not just about passing on
> >genes, few even know or care if Einstein or Plato had children, but
> >rather about insuring the continued existance of human knowledge.
> >>What is good for the survival of genes is environmentally influenced if
> >>not determined. So what we consider moral should be flexible to the
> >>environmental situation.
> >>
> >>I could provide and analyze lots of supporting examples. But can anyone
> >>think of a counter example where this is not true?
> >
> >I tend to agree if you replace "gene" with information. Of course
> >morality depends on the situation. In general killing is a very bad
> >thing, but if someone was about to take a torch to the last known
> >repository of human knowledge I'd kill them and/or sacrifice myself to
> >save it with the absolutely certainty that I'd done the right thing.
> Fortunately this is less and less likely.
> Keith Henson

I swear upon the alter of God, eternal hostility to every form of tyranny
over the mind of man. - Thomas Jefferson

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed Jul 17 2013 - 04:00:57 MDT