RE: Rumsfeld Says He May Drop New Office of Influence

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Sun Mar 10 2002 - 21:51:06 GMT

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    From: "Scott Chase" <>
    Subject: RE: Rumsfeld Says He May Drop New Office of Influence
    Date: Sun, 10 Mar 2002 16:51:06 -0500
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    >From: Ned Wolpert <>
    >Subject: RE: Rumsfeld Says He May Drop New Office of Influence
    >Date: 10 Mar 2002 08:21:47 -0700
    >On Sat, 2002-03-09 at 16:46, Scott Chase wrote:
    > > I don't think Lerner was equating sociobiologists and Nazis but was
    > > some biologically deterministic parallelism nonetheless. He really lays
    > > the topic of Nobel prize winning ethologist Konrad Lorenz's checkered
    > > past and his analogy comparing certain humans to a cancerous growth.
    > >
    > > I'm probably a tad more sympathetic to sociobiology/ep than those on the
    > > intellectual Left and may come down a *little* less critically than
    > > and his buddies, but I still look at sociobiological (and memetic)
    > > quite cautiously.
    >I too have the same problem. On one hand, I accept that evolution
    >exists, and accept the base principles of genetics. I can also agree
    >that the 'meme' does exist and that thoughts/ideas are viral and merely
    >desire replication. I have a problem when us humans (the vehicle of
    >both genes and memes) decide we can manipulate either. As we look at
    >eugenics (active or passive) the ease for a 'culture' to develop
    >destructive traits, like the Nazis, seems too easy. And what about
    >eugenics of the mind? (meugenics?) Does one try to kill religious
    >thought like the Marxists of USSR?
    >I think the problem is that people believe that evolution is geared to
    >go toward a 'perfection', or if it doesn't then they try to push it
    >toward a 'perfection'. This seems to be the core problem whenever the
    >study of genetics and culture are mixed. (Without trying to rile people
    >up via flame-bait, a comment made to me from someone was basically
    >"social darwinism is reductionist and/or tautological at its best,
    >racist at its worst." Where does sociobiology fit in that?.)
    I think Lerner made the point that sociobiology tends to have biologically
    (or genetically) deterministic underpinnings. As such, though, sociobiology
    is not necessarily racist, though it is open to co-option by those who would
    harbor a racist agenda. Something I've pondered, but haven't followed
    through on, would be a possible odd marriage between extreme right-wing
    ideology and hard-boiled sociobiology. Though those on the right might have
    a tendency to religious fundamentalism which precludes an acceptance of
    evolution as fact, the social implications of sociobiology (at least some of
    the more extreme strains having contentious stuff to say about race and
    gender) might appeal somewhat to the far right.

    With sociobiology there is the is/ought distinction (and related
    naturalistic fallacy) to contend with where one might see something that is
    a naturally based fact (say *if* there is a tendency toward rape,
    infanticide, or aggression etc... in certain ecologically circumscribed
    circumstances), but this "is" does not translate to an ethical ought (or
    because it is the natural state it is not automatically "good" in the sense
    of the summum bonum), so sociobiologists, if they're careful about their
    theories, need not be seen as advocating the implications of their theories
    or justifying them in the social, legal, or political sphere as letting the
    status quo stand or whatever. They could very well rally for a totally
    different set of oughts than the is's they postulate arising from the
    evolution of behavior.

    Nonetheless, sociobiology and is cousin EP are still open to charges by
    critics of Panglossian adaptationism and "just so stories". Thus, the "is"
    itself is open to question, regardless of whether the theorist translates
    this is into an ought.
    >The only thing I end up with is that educating people on the concept of
    >these two replicators is very important. That way we can avoid the
    >pitfalls of having two replicators driving our actions though 'instinct'
    >and our concept of 'intelligence'. Course, then I'm back to square one;
    >what education is this? I don't think it currently exists in any form.
    >Ned Wolpert <> 4e75
    >1024D/5DEA314E: 7FFB 99C3 BF90 6135 12F4 07B8 0B23 2E5C 5DEA 314E
    ><< signature.asc >>

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