reply to post by adjensen
Someone recently pointed out that, as offensive as it sounds, a serial rapist would benefit more from natural selection in passing along their genes
than a do-gooder monogamist
This assumes two things both of which I have an issue with. First it assumes that life is about passing on as many genes as possible and second it
assumes that it is easier and potentially better for the rapist to rape people than it is for him to pass on his genes via more socially acceptable
While certainly reproduction seems the main function of all life we cannot reduce something as complex as the human brain to the level of a virus
which simply seeks to rape and pillage the cells of its host in order to endlessly make copies of itself. There's a lot more going on with human
beings than simply passing on our genes, even if many advantages, such as the innate empathy we possess, help us with that.
With our natural empathy and status as social animals it doesn't make sense for a serial rapist to thrive in the group. Being social animals with
morals may seem to hinder passing on our genes, but actually it helps. The group, the community and family units, are necessary to raise the children
to adulthood in order that they too can pass on their genes. Someone who starts raping people the moment they become old enough to reproduce isn't
going to last long in the group and their motivation, given empathy and the fact that they were raised in the group and likely have developed some
loyalty or sense of duty to it, wouldn't make sense.
I think people are extrapolating a bit too much from what Dawkins is saying, though I honestly haven't read his books. Survival of the fittest is not
about spreading your genes to as many as you can, it's simply about surviving long enough to reproduce, being just fit enough, and morality helps us
do that (regardless of its source).
If they are instinctual, how is it that they change en masse and in a very short period,
I take a sort of two tiered approach to my own 'theory' of morality. Empathy and a natural sense of fairness, which are both instinctive, form the
basic framework for morality in my opinion BUT thanks to complex abstract language and thinking things have become a bit more nuanced then "hey, my
fellow primate stole my banana, I think I'll retaliate!"
So there is societal collective morality, the morality that the group develops, which vary vastly from time period to time period and group to group.
These are the sorts of rules typically enforced by the authority of the group. I think such morality works best when grounded in empathy and reason
and left flexible enough to change as society does.
If values were imposed instead by a deity, or simply if morals existed in some kind of Platonic form written into the laws of nature, it wouldn't
explain how vastly different moral systems exist. It wouldn't explain how it was once considered morally acceptable to own another human being as
property but now we realize how wrong that was. If such a thing were imposed wouldn't we be compelled to adhere to it? After all how can you amend a
moral system which is carved into the fabric of what you are? The existence of a moral framework, a sort of base level morality for social animals,
makes sense from an evolutionary perspective as something like basic empathy could easily have evolved... the more complex nuances of morality and
value systems and cultural minutia is a bit different, more complicated and mysterious. Morality as the gift of some god, or the curse of some
forbidden fruit, doesn't make sense though, even if all the pieces in the evolutionary explanation haven't been found.