From: Keith Henson (email@example.com)
Date: Wed Aug 16 2006 - 09:10:11 MDT
At 06:12 AM 8/15/2006 -0700, you wrote:
>On 8/10/06, Michael Anissimov <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
>> > Well, only if you completely ignore the effect of the environment of the
>> > individual and all the other consequent effects of that idea.
>>What? If I copy the most benevolent person I know, then they will be
>>bevolent, no matter the environment. Humans are flexible - they
>>adjust. Someone won't automatically turn evil just if they're placed
>>in a slightly different environment.
>So you think goodness and evil are inherent, objective, context-free
>properties of people?
>Consider some dark-age hero like King Arthur. What they had to do, to
>be good, was to form a strong military, and kill lots of neighbors,
>and then impose stability through a dictatorship. Hitler or Stalin
>would have been considered great heros in the dark ages. Change the
>context, change the benevolence.
Exactly. And at the root of the difference between times leading to war
and times of peace is population growth in excess of economic growth.
I ran into this on the Wikipedia recently on the entry "War":
"Pope Urban II in 1095, on the eve of the First Crusade, wrote, "For this
land which you now inhabit, shut in on all sides by the sea and the
mountain peaks, is too narrow for your large population; it scarcely
furnishes food enough for its cultivators. Hence it is that you murder and
devour one another, that you wage wars, and that many among you perish in
civil strife. Let hatred, therefore, depart from among you; let your
quarrels end. Enter upon the road to the Holy Sepulcher; wrest that land
from a wicked race, and subject it to yourselves."
"This is one of the earliest expressions of what has come to be called the
Malthusian theory of war, in which wars are caused by expanding populations
and limited resources. Thomas Malthus (1766 - 1834) wrote that populations
always increase until they are limited by war, disease, or famine.
"This theory is thought by Malthusians to account for the relative decrease
in wars during the past fifty years, especially in the developed world,
where advances in agriculture have made it possible to support a much
larger population than was formerly the case, and where birth control has
dramatically slowed the increase in population."
Evolutionary psychology and memetics provide the evolved mechanisms.
It's a depressing model.
Most likely outcome is a massive die back of the human population in wars.
But Northern Ireland is an example of how low birth rates can eventually
turn off population support for warriors. (A massive rise in income from
technological advances should work too.)
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