Thanks for backing me up on altruism.
What applies to races, but doesn't excuse, also applies to a biological
class like fellow mammals. Humans bond more emotionally to pet mammals
than to fish because fellow mammals, more broadly fellow members of the
same biological class, share more genes than members of different
biological classes, like humans and fish or humans and bacteria. Thus
animals, including humans, are more likely to act in the interests of
related species than of distant species, and this behavior is consistent
with genetic interests, contains a genetic reward, and is therefore not
This may apply also to a cleaner fish cleaning parasites from a shark.
If they are both fish then they would share a limited and approximate
genetic interest because they are in the same class.
Two more notes. If a behavior contains a reward in an afterlife,
as in Christian behavior, it is also not altruism. To qualify as
altruism a behavior must have no reward, personal or genetic, physical or
reputational, in this life or any other.
Sociobiology does mean that racism is normal and anti racism is
abnormal, but as I began with domestic abuse and sabotage of
contraception, being normal does not make it right or excusable as all
morality, everything right, is abnormal, about as common as
schitzophrenia, which, like altruism, also does not serve genetic
interests, but does exist. It does, however, make racism permanent,
something that would rise again biologically, even if it were culturally
eliminated. Thus the fight against racism is perpetual and the dream is
just that, a dream.
Hello again guys and girls!
I personally don't believe that altruism exists, but rather that it is an
extension of our own selfishness because helping another it indirectly
helps ones self if they are closely related. It has been proven
empirically by Dr. Rushton (Book: Nationalism and the Genetic Similarity
Theory) that people are more likely to show "altruism" towards family and
friends, while more likely to show selfishness towards strangers, which
is what one would expect.
Altruism may well be a word we use to describe the interaction between
kin relationships as it benefits our selfish nature to keep our allies
strong because they offer comfort and protection.
When it comes to personal survival (or avoiding prison) our simplistic
idea of self-sacrifice (altruism) goes out the window. Most people would
like to think they wouldn't tattle on a family member, but it depends on
the circumstance, or perhaps more accurately, on the potential penalty of
the circumstance. If one knew a family member killed someone and one was
innocent it may force them to change their position if they was accused
of the crime because if the penalty is life imprisonment or death the
potential penalty may be too high and the potential gain too little for a
net benefit to be given in said situation.
In most circumstances we always put ourselves first, directly or
indirectly, but there seems to be one exception is when ones child is
involved. Why do parents sacrifice themselves for their children? While
it seems like the noble thing to do, the best solution, assuming
evolution is correct, would be to save ones self because you can always
have more children and if you die there aren't any guarentees that the
child will be able to save themselves afterwards anyway.
My biology teacher always used to say that self preservation comes before
reproduction in the genetic 'order list' but yet the sacrifice of ones
life for ones child seems to be a strong one. I am told there is
something quite unique when you have a child, you form a bond like no
other. It's like there is something connecting you not just biologically
but in other ways too. There are instincts and feelings you've never had
that come out.
Perhaps one day when I have children of my own I will know what that is
like and I will be able to write more about it but it does leave me with
many questions in the mean time, such as:
Why do people miss their pet animals but don't care as much about their
pet fish? Is it because we spend more time with them, forming neural
pathways that expects them and so makes us "miss" them when they are not
I must admit find this philosophical discussion to be quite interesting.
You might like to read the book 'The Selfish Gene' by Richard Dawkins.
As for the definition of morality and ethics, this too interests me. I
have heard many good ways to describing the difference and a few come to
mind, the first being:
"An ethical man thinks about cheating on his wife, the moral man would
never think about it."
The second was:
"Ethics change as we do, morality changes as society does."
A third, which is a joke borrowed from a Marilyn Manson song said:
"Morality is relative to the size of your steeple".
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