- ... The theory I proposed is not a general theory of human sociality but a theory of political behavior. According to the paper, a general science ofMessage 1 of 8 , Jun 3, 2006View Source
>Jay R. Feierman: I don't believe it is a good model for theThe theory I proposed is not a "general theory of human sociality"
>evolution of human sociality in general, as it would appear to me to
>be a hindrance to the evolution of social cooperation among
>non-related individuals. Individuals in complex, industrialized
>societies, who have the correct balance between cooperation (fair
>reciprocation) and fair competition based on differences in skills
>and leadership qualities, appear to be most successful.
but a theory of political behavior. According to the paper, a general
science of sociality would study the "covariation of fitness". That
particular covariation of fitness which occurs via fitness extraction
is a specific form, making the essence of political behavior and
being the study object of a political science based in biology
(political biology). Fitness extraction represents intra-species
predacity; it is not mere "competition", and I drew carefully the
distinction and some of its implications. Instead of the conventional
wisdom which sees only competition and cooperation, I see predatory
competition (fitness extraction), non-predatory competition (which is
OK), and cooperation. Now, "cooperation" is actually that which
occurs in situations of *non-predatory* competitive equilibrium.
Coming to D/S, dominance is indeed the result of competition: but
there makes the whole difference in the world whether this is
established by means of predatory methods (as in politics), or by
means of non-predatory methods (as in free-market systems or in any
meritocratic setup). Using your example, you accept a subordinate
position in your team because th hierarchy is shaped by meritocratic
means, which is to say, by non-predatory competition between
individuals. When each has reached an optimal level of fitness, there
occurs a (non-predatory) competitive equilibrium, when cooperation
takes over. But if the hierarchy of your team would arise by
nepotism, or out of the scheming of a small gang, promoting
themselves to dominance by manoeuvers, use of threats, etc. you would
not setlle for cooperation or, if fear takes over, you will cooperate
only as minimally requiered by the situation, while cutting down on
your productive participation. As a matter of fact, cooperation in
conditions of predatory competitive equilibria is a separate problem
and interesting in itself. Any predatory gang will have to discover
an optimum level of predacity which still allows an "acceptable"
level of fitness to the individuals prayed upon such as these do not
stop being productive. It is here that lays the inefficiency of slave
systems, and the relative efficiency of modern states.
To stress the point even further: cooperation is always conditional,
competition is unconditional, and predatory competition is a probable
possibility in any species called "political". Cooperation is never
obvious, it is difficult to achieve and, when achieved, prone to a
million of contingent factors capable to disrupt it (not to speak
about the fact that it becomes interesting for predatory third
I hope this makes things clear.
Mircea Boari, MD, PhD in Political Science
ESSEC Returning Visiting Professor
- Re: [evol-psych] Politics & EvoPsy: Dominance vs. SubordinationMark Flinn: Is part of what Mircea is suggesting the truism that fitness is always relative? JayMessage 2 of 8 , Jun 5, 2006View Source
Re: [evol-psych] Politics & EvoPsy: Dominance vs. SubordinationMark Flinn: Is part of what Mircea is suggesting the truism that fitness is always relative?Jay R. Feierman: I believe so. However, there are instances where all the individuals in a non-related social group could all have increased fitness, if their group wins in inter-group competition. Perhaps a principle is that fitness is always relative at the most competitive level (where selection is acting the most). In the case of Toyota versus General Motors, that would be the social group of unrelated individuals, who are collectively and cooperatively battling for market share.----- Original Message -----From: Mark FlinnCc: evol-pscyhSent: Monday, June 05, 2006 3:44 PMSubject: Re: [evol-psych] Politics & EvoPsy: Dominance vs. SubordinationIs part of what Mircea is suggesting the truism that fitness is always relative?
On 6/2/06 12:23 PM, "Jay R. Feierman" <jfeierman@...> wrote:
Jay R. Feierman: Social vertebrates, including humans, have the ability to be social and cooperate with each other in social groups by mechanisms that allow hierarchal sociality. Whereas there may be initial competition for rank in the social group, once the rank is established, the dominance hierarchy allows the social group to function more effectively, as there is not wasted time and energy over trying to gain higher social position. This allows the functional task of the social group to be carried out more effectively
Mircea Boari: This is very true. However, selection operates at the level of individuals/genes. Individuals do not hold in view what is efficient for the group, but for themselves. Therefore, if by some sort of "social homeostatic" device one individual decides that s/he does better by stopping, say, at a lower level on the dominance hierarchy, s/he will subdue his/her competitiveness and will cooperate from that particular position/level. All boils down to individual fitness. If changes occur, one may no longer deem satisfactory the former position, and resume competing strategies aimed to re-place him/her within the hierarchical structure...
Jay R. Feierman: Selection operates at many levels, including the gene, the individual, the kin group and the non-kin social group. Individuals differ in their skills and leadership qualities in social groups. Often, what is best for a group, even for a group of unrelated individuals, is best for self, when the group is competing with other social groups. As an example, making a better Toyota benefits individuals all through the Toyota hierarchy, as Toyota is competing with other automobile manufacturers for market share. Therefore, just as water seeks its own level, so do individuals seek their own level in a dominance hierarchy. Individuals stop at lower levels in the hierarchy because that is where they best fit, given their skills and leadership qualities. It is better to be in the middle or even the bottom of a social hierarchy than to not be in a social hierarchy at all. It is blind arrogance to believe that one is always best suited to be the leader of any social group within which one finds him or her self.
Mircea Boari: One can talk about processes, phenomena, positions and strategies of dominance/subordination, but not of *types*. D/S [Dominance/Submission] must be more like different expressions of the "same thing", rather than different things . . . As to what specifically this "same thing" is, this I believe to be the very important task of a political science inspired by the evolutionary epistemology . . . In the paper I advertised here on the list, I propose that a function called "fitness extraction" is "that thing". I conjectured that somewhere on the line leading to humans a social specialisation arised, allowing one individual to increase his/her fitness by "extracting" fitness from others in zero-sum games. I defined this specialization as the object of study for a political science evolutionarilly informed which I labelled "political biology."
Jay R. Feierman: I believe your model of extracting fitness from others in a zero-sum game (which is similar to non-reciprocating) is applicable to individuals with Cluster B Personality Disorders (Anti-social, Borderline, Narcissistic and Histionic). I don't believe it is a good model for the evolution of human sociality in general, as it would appear to me to be a hindrance to the evolution of social cooperation among non-related individuals. Individuals in complex, industrialized societies, who have the correct balance between cooperation (fair reciprocation) and fair competition based on differences in skills and leadership qualities, appear to be most successful. Individuals who compete unfairly by extracting fitness from others in a zero-sum game are often ousted from the social group, as when such individuals are early discharged from the military, terminated from employment in corporations or dis-inherited from their families.
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- Message 3 of 8 , Jun 5, 2006View Source
- ... Yes, Mark, Jay -- that is exactly what I am suggesting. But I do not see this as a truism, unless the comment was ment in a disparaging sense: which IMessage 4 of 8 , Jun 10, 2006View SourceAt 16:44 -0500 06/05/06, Mark Flinn wrote:
>Is part of what Mircea is suggesting the truism that fitness isAt 16:36 -0600 06/05/06, Jay R. Feierman wrote:
>Mark Flinn: Is part of what Mircea is suggesting the truism thatYes, Mark, Jay -- that is exactly what I am suggesting. But I do not
>fitness is always relative?
>Jay R. Feierman: I believe so.
see this as a truism, unless the comment was ment in a disparaging
sense: which I would regret, and which would be un-necessary. In
order for the relativity of fitness calculations by individuals to be
obvious, it is not sufficient to merely state it: but the notion
should be made operational in the theory itself and/or in the
interpretation of empirical facts. I, for one, do just that in
current work in progress, with interesting results. As a matter of
fact, I nodded aprovingly when, in your first post in the thread,
Mark, you introduced a sense of the dynamics of dominance positions
and, implicitely, of their relative character . But that was a
singular occurence in the thread.
 Mark Flinn <FlinnM@...>, Tue, 16 May 2006 08:29:42
-0500: "The links among status inequality-stress-health are complex.
Marmot, Sapolsky, and Wilkinson's evolutionary perspective is
over-reliant on environmental novelty and the smoke detector
principle, IMO. High status can also be stressful. Consider the
fate of rock stars. Stress response in humans is clearly sensitive
to social challenges and opportunities (Dickerson & Kemeny, 2004;
Flinn 2006abc; Flinn & Leone, 2006ab). Low status is associated with
low cortisol in some circumstances (e.g., Seamus Decker's research)."