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Cosmotheist
Friday, January 7th, 2005, 03:21 AM
Here are links to a couple of good articles.

http://www.mcrit.com/COMSOC/visions...al_basis_1.html (http://www.mcrit.com/COMSOC/visions/edward_wilson/txt_biological_basis_1.html)

http://www.lahey.org/NewsPubs/Publi...003_Feature.asp (http://www.lahey.org/NewsPubs/Publications/Ethics/JournalSpring2003/Journal_Spring2003_Feature.asp)

Enjoy!

Ahnenerbe
Wednesday, August 19th, 2009, 07:01 PM
FASTER EVOLUTION MEANS MORE ETHNIC DIFFERENCES

by Jonathan Haidt , Psychologist, University of Virginia; Author of The Happiness Hypothesis


The most offensive idea in all of science for the last 40 years is the possibility that behavioral differences between racial and ethnic groups have some genetic basis. Knowing nothing but the long-term offensiveness of this idea, a betting person would have to predict that as we decode the genomes of people around the world, we're going to find deeper differences than most scientists now expect. Expectations, after all, are not based purely on current evidence; they are biased, even if only slightly, by the gut feelings of the researchers, and those gut feelings include disgust toward racism..

A wall has long protected respectable evolutionary inquiry from accusations of aiding and abetting racism. That wall is the belief that genetic change happens at such a glacial pace that there simply was not time, in the 50,000 years since humans spread out from Africa, for selection pressures to have altered the genome in anything but the most trivial way (e.g., changes in skin color and nose shape were adaptive responses to cold climates). Evolutionary psychology has therefore focused on the Pleistocene era – the period from about 1.8 million years ago to the dawn of agriculture — during which our common humanity was forged for the hunter-gatherer lifestyle.

But the writing is on the wall. Russian scientists showed in the 1990s that a strong selection pressure (picking out and breeding only the tamest fox pups in each generation) created what was — in behavior as well as body — essentially a new species in just 30 generations. That would correspond to about 750 years for humans. Humans may never have experienced such a strong selection pressure for such a long period, but they surely experienced many weaker selection pressures that lasted far longer, and for which some heritable personality traits were more adaptive than others. It stands to reason that local populations (not continent-wide "races") adapted to local circumstances by a process known as "co-evolution" in which genes and cultural elements change over time and mutually influence each other. The best documented example of this process is the co-evolution of genetic mutations that maintain the ability to fully digest lactose in adulthood with the cultural innovation of keeping cattle and drinking their milk. This process has happened several times in the last 10,000 years, not to whole "races" but to tribes or larger groups that domesticated cattle.

Recent "sweeps" of the genome across human populations show that hundreds of genes have been changing during the last 5-10 millennia in response to local selection pressures. (See papers by Benjamin Voight, Scott Williamson, and Bruce Lahn). No new mental modules can be created from scratch in a few millennia, but slight tweaks to existing mechanisms can happen quickly, and small genetic changes can have big behavioral effects, as with those Russian foxes. We must therefore begin looking beyond the Pleistocene and turn our attention to the Holocene era as well – the last 10,000 years. This was the period after the spread of agriculture during which the pace of genetic change sped up in response to the enormous increase in the variety of ways that humans earned their living, formed larger coalitions, fought wars, and competed for resources and mates.

The protective "wall" is about to come crashing down, and all sorts of uncomfortable claims are going to pour in. Skin color has no moral significance, but traits that led to Darwinian success in one of the many new niches and occupations of Holocene life — traits such as collectivism, clannishness, aggressiveness, docility, or the ability to delay gratification — are often seen as virtues or vices. Virtues are acquired slowly, by practice within a cultural context, but the discovery that there might be ethnically-linked genetic variations in the ease with which people can acquire specific virtues is — and this is my prediction — going to be a "game changing" scientific event. (By "ethnic" I mean any group of people who believe they share common descent, actually do share common descent, and that descent involved at least 500 years of a sustained selection pressure, such as sheep herding, rice farming, exposure to malaria, or a caste-based social order, which favored some heritable behavioral predispositions and not others.)

I believe that the "Bell Curve" wars of the 1990s, over race differences in intelligence, will seem genteel and short-lived compared to the coming arguments over ethnic differences in moralized traits. I predict that this "war" will break out between 2012 and 2017.

There are reasons to hope that we'll ultimately reach a consensus that does not aid and abet racism. I expect that dozens or hundreds of ethnic differences will be found, so that any group — like any person — can be said to have many strengths and a few weaknesses, all of which are context-dependent. Furthermore, these cross-group differences are likely to be small when compared to the enormous variation within ethnic groups and the enormous and obvious effects of cultural learning. But whatever consensus we ultimately reach, the ways in which we now think about genes, groups, evolution and ethnicity will be radically changed by the unstoppable progress of the human genome project.



MORAL FOUNDATIONS THEORY

by Jonathan Haidt


Moral Foundations Theory was created to understand why morality varies so much across cultures yet still shows so many similarities and recurrent themes. In brief, the theory proposes that five innate and universally available psychological systems are the foundations of “intuitive ethics.” Each culture then constructs virtues, narratives, and institutions on top of these foundations, thereby creating the unique moralities we see around the world, and conflicting within nations too. The foundations are:

1) Harm/care, related to our long evolution as mammals with attachment systems and an ability to feel (and dislike) the pain of others. This foundation underlies virtues of kindness, gentleness, and nurturance.

2) Fairness/reciprocity, related to the evolutionary process of reciprocal altruism. This foundation generates ideas of justice, rights, and autonomy.

3) Ingroup/loyalty, related to our long history as tribal creatures able to form shifting coalitions. This foundation underlies virtues of patriotism and self-sacrifice for the group. It is active anytime people feel that it's "one for all, and all for one."

4) Authority/respect, shaped by our long primate history of hierarchical social interactions. This foundaiton underlies virtues of leadership and followership, including deference to legitimate authority and respect for traditions.

5) Purity/sanctity, shaped by the psychology of disgust and contamination. This foundation underlies religious notions of striving to live in an elevated, less carnal, more noble way. It underlies the widespread idea that the body is a temple which can be desecrated by immoral activities and contaminants (an idea not unique to religious traditions).

Much of our present research involves applying the theory to political "cultures" such as those of liberals and conservatives. The current American culture war, we have found, can be seen as arising from the fact that liberals try to create a morality relying almost exclusively on the Harm/Care and Fairness/Reciprocity foundations; conservatives, especially religious conservatives, use all five foundations, including Ingroup/Loyalty, Authority/Respect, and Purity/Sanctity. You can find out your own moral foundations profile at www.YourMorals.org (http://forums.skadi.net/redirector.php?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.your morals.org%2F).

http://faculty.virginia.edu/haidtlab/mft/index.php (http://forums.skadi.net/redirector.php?url=http%3A%2F%2Ffaculty. virginia.edu%2Fhaidtlab%2Fmft%2Findex.ph p)



"If the concept of honor has anywhere formed the center of existence, then it is in the Nordic, Germanic West." - Alfred Rosenberg

rainman
Wednesday, August 19th, 2009, 07:15 PM
If behavior has a genetic basis, which it provably does, then moral behavior also has a genetic basis as it is a type of behavior. However the wild cards with human beings are that they are a highly socialized learning animal. Individuals can easily pick up behavior that they aren't genetically inclined to do. One racist example would be the black person who is always around white people and acts white but who starts to act differently around his own people. Or we can look at dogs for instance and how they can be toilette trained and such, or taught other "civilized" behavior that would never occur without the human influence. This is why it is very hard to study the genetic basis of behavior. Did that person steal because he logically thought it was a good idea, because of the influence of his environment, or because he was genetically inclined to steal? It's a slippery slope.

This is one reason I think tribalism is a good idea. Genetically related tribes will show their true genetic colors much more so than individuals within a society that can influence them to act in a way that isn't natural to them.

velvet
Wednesday, August 19th, 2009, 09:48 PM
1) Harm/care, related to our long evolution as mammals with attachment systems and an ability to feel (and dislike) the pain of others. This foundation underlies virtues of kindness, gentleness, and nurturance.

2) Fairness/reciprocity, related to the evolutionary process of reciprocal altruism. This foundation generates ideas of justice, rights, and autonomy.

3) Ingroup/loyalty, related to our long history as tribal creatures able to form shifting coalitions. This foundation underlies virtues of patriotism and self-sacrifice for the group. It is active anytime people feel that it's "one for all, and all for one."

4) Authority/respect, shaped by our long primate history of hierarchical social interactions. This foundaiton underlies virtues of leadership and followership, including deference to legitimate authority and respect for traditions.

5) Purity/sanctity, shaped by the psychology of disgust and contamination. This foundation underlies religious notions of striving to live in an elevated, less carnal, more noble way. It underlies the widespread idea that the body is a temple which can be desecrated by immoral activities and contaminants (an idea not unique to religious traditions).

I find these definitions, or better the conclusions drawn, quite farfetched and for science far too moral.
Science should be neutral, and not like in #5 make up out of certain psychological traits, a positive conclusion of the specific (because in our current [brainwashed] mindset preferable) moral as it is.

I doubt that our genome has an allele which reads 'disgust for certain (currently disliked) behavior'. I even doubt that it reads 'sanctity related to body to be viewed as temple'. That are interpretations of the underlying function.

This counts also for authority/respect, probably for ingroup/loyality too. This guy chooses big words which carry a heavy moral weight, a moral weight shaped by our current world that is to add, that draw even bigger conclusions, but leave a bland taste...

Neophyte
Thursday, August 20th, 2009, 02:18 AM
One racist example would be the black person who is always around white people and acts white but who starts to act differently around his own people.

The main point would be that the Negroes themselves cannot create the society or culture in which this reasoning process would take place.


This is why it is very hard to study the genetic basis of behavior. Did that person steal because he logically thought it was a good idea, because of the influence of his environment, or because he was genetically inclined to steal? It's a slippery slope.

That is why we invented statistics. Behaviour and ancestry can be quantified and subjected to statistical analysis. If the relationship is strong enough and the sample is large enough you can pick up that correlation.


This is one reason I think tribalism is a good idea. Genetically related tribes will show their true genetic colors much more so than individuals within a society that can influence them to act in a way that isn't natural to them.

Indeed, but I would like to put another spin on that.

A society is held together by a set of common norms and cultural factors, and left to its own devices a people will develop a culture and a society coherent with their biological inclinations. This is a society in which they will feel at home and the actions expected of them will be coherent with their own tendencies.

Add other ethnicities, with other social and cultural tendencies, and they will not feel at home in that society. In some ways they will seek exclusivity within that society, to create their own structures and institutions, but also to change those of the society in which they live. In fact, by their own action they will change society. In a way they will dissolve the fabric of society by changing the expectations its members have on the behaviour of other members.

This is exactly what we see when we look at multicultural societies around the world, one good example is the findings of professor Robert Putnam in this area. The more diverse societies were, the less vibrant he found them to be.