[extropy-chat] EP and political philosophy was Anarchy?

Keith Henson hkhenson at rogers.com
Fri Apr 20 17:16:57 UTC 2007

At 07:42 AM 4/20/2007 -0400, you wrote:
>On Thursday, April 19, 2007 8:39 PM Keith Henson hkhenson at rogers.com
> > The drift in the high tech areas I know about has
> > been toward evolutionary psychology, but there
> > isn't a political ideology formed up around that yet.
>Need one's political philosophy well up from one's beliefs about
>psychology?  I think just as the multiplication table doesn't
>necessarily change with each new fashion in psychology (or other
>theories), one need not come up with a different political outlook with
>each change of fashion in other beliefs.  This is not to say all views
>are insulated here, but certain things seem to apply formally no matter
>what the content is or what the other givens are.

This is something I have not given a lot of thought to and it clearly would 
take a lot.  EP is an extremely pragmatic study.  It accounts for the 
psychological mechanisms people have because those mechanisms contributed 
to reproductive success (in the inclusive sense) during the EEA or are side 
effects of some trait that did contribute.

Large scale political beliefs as well as large scale religions emerged with 
the formation of states.  States, of course, were not part of the EEA so it 
gets tricky when you start considering how EEA mechanisms cope with an 
environment they were not shaped in.

I have been considering war, particularly what conditions set off wars, in 
this context.  It's a depressing model that emerges.

But take one example from the libertarian spectrum, objectivism.  Now I 
don't make the least claim to understand all the ins and out of 
objectivism, but I was exposed many years ago to an objectivist who claimed 
that if an objectivist were offered a choice, the objectivist should value 
his life more than that of all the rest of the human race.

Assuming my informant properly represented the objectivist political view, 
then EP (applying Hamilton's rule) will say this is just wrong and in fact 
not likely to happen if such a choice happened to an objectivist.  We 
evolved to (in some circumstances) value other lives more than our 
own.  Azar Gat goes into considerable detail about this in his new book 
_War in Human Civilization_ and it is the point behind the recent movie 300.

>Think of economics as a model here.  The law of supply and demand
>applies regardless of whether one is talking about ascetic monks,
>sybaritic hedonists, middle class American moms, lower class Chinese
>factory workers, or rich Arab oil men -- or whatever social, cultural,
>philosophical, or ideological background shapes them.

Even so, economics needs to be informed by EP.  Otherwise how can you 
explain why people forgo huge sums of money for status and why people pay 
high prices for drugs and the attention they get in cults?

Sorry for harping on this, but understanding EP is really critical toward 
making sense out of the social world.


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