Re: Looking for a name.

From: Francesca S. Alcorn (
Date: Thu 25 Mar 2004 - 20:23:13 GMT

  • Next message: Keith Henson: "Re: Looking for a name."

    Keith wrote:

    >>> It is a testament to the societal value of reciprocation that we
    >>>have chosen to fight the Krishnas mostly by seeking to avoid
    >>>rather than to withstand the force of their gift giving. The
    >>>reciprocity rule that empowers their tactic is too strong-and
    >>>socially beneficial-for us to want to violate it."
    >>This is my point exactly, that there are some behaviors which are
    >>so crucial to our functioning as social animals that although they
    >>may come with a price tag, their benefits to the *group* outweighs
    >>that cost (welfare is my case in point). It may not always be to
    >>your benefit to get trapped in this reciprocity thing, but it is to
    >>your benefit to live in a group with these behaviors.
    >Phrasing this in gene centered terms, it is a high advantage to live
    >in a group. (If you think about it, humans who live entirely in
    >isolated groups of one don't pass on any genes at all.) But if you
    >do live in a cooperative group, you have to be alert for
    >freeloaders. That means you have to put out signals that you are
    >not a freeloader, and (along with others) punish any in the group
    >who are taking advantage of living in the group but not doing their
    >share. Recent research found humans have a psychological trait to
    >punish those who take too much even when it is expensive.

    Yes, and the conservative think-tank people play on this. But even if you could tell the difference between the deserving poor (people who have lost their jobs due to the vicissitudes of the economy - and there's a few of them out there.) and the undeserving poor (Marvin Olasky's terms, not mine) - what then? Do we just sit around and watch them starve to death? I think that we are also pretty hardwired to respond to people in distress, and that is also "too socially beneficial for us to want to violate it".

    I know that it is possible to over ride that, or there would be no Kitty Genovese and no roman coliseum, but I think it is dangerous to the whole group to allow it to go too far. We generally respond with horror when we hear stories about things like that, and with good reason.

    And the politics of welfare really do allow you to look at conflicting drives, and how memes can "activate" them. Certain people might be more susceptible to memetic activation of one type of drive, while others might be more susceptible to others. Maybe this is what makes me a bleeding-heart liberal and my one of my best friends a nuke-em-to-the-stone-age conservative.


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