[ExI] Morality Meme vs.Rationality

hkhenson hkhenson at rogers.com
Fri Dec 14 16:03:39 UTC 2007

At 10:14 PM 12/13/2007, Stefan wrote:


>I do not see a difference in morality and rationality. My arguments 
>are summed up in a paper that you can find here:

If you don't mind me cherry picking a bit.

"Evolution does not have an explicit goal but the implicit goal of evolution to
increase fitness can be derived from the above arguments[22]. From 
examining what an
increase in fitness actually constitutes, it can be concluded that an 
increase in fitness is
equivalent with an increase in the ability of a unit of information 
to ensure its
continued existence."

Organisms are, of course, what is behaving morally, i.e., preserving 
information.  Formerly this was all genetic information.

"One could then form the hypothesis that that is good what increases 
fitness[18] or
put another way that that is good what increases a unit of 
information's ability to ensure
its continued existence."

I notice that you cite Hamilton, but don't give the formula,     C < R x B

"Where C is the cost in fitness to the actor, R the genetic 
relatedness between the actor and the recipient and B is the fitness 
benefit to the recipient. Fitness costs and benefits are measured in 
fecundity. His two 1964 papers entitled The Genetical Evolution of 
Social Behavior are now widely referenced."


"From the gene's point of view, evolutionary success ultimately 
depends on leaving behind the maximum number of copies of itself in 
the <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Population>population. Until 1964 
it was generally believed that genes only achieved this by causing 
the individual to leave the maximum number of viable offspring 
possible. However, in 1964 
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W.D._Hamilton>W. D. Hamilton showed 
that since relatives of an organism are likely to share more genes in 
common (not to be confused with "common genes," the opposite of 
scarce genes), the gene can also increase its evolutionary success by 
promoting the reproduction and survival of these related individuals. 
This leads individuals to behave as if maximising their inclusive 
fitness rather than their personal fitness."


This is where rational for the individual and rational for the gene 
part company.

I make the case that this ability to identify with unrelated others 
(say in an army unit) is because we evolved in bands where the 
average relatedness was high enough that taking a big chance of dying 
to defend the band was cost effective from the gene's viewpoint.

 From the individual's viewpoint, it's not rational to die to save 
others.  From the gene's viewpoint it is, if they are relatives and 
the number you save in dying times the relatedness is more than 
one.  This makes the case that brain mechanisms built by genes will, 
under particular circumstances, induce people to think and act irrationally.


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