Practical Benevolence, group selectionism (was Re: CEV specifies...)

From: Tim Freeman (
Date: Mon Apr 28 2008 - 05:23:16 MDT

--- Stefan Pernar <> wrote:
> You can find my paper on friendliness called 'Practical Benevolence -
> a Rational Philosophy of Morality' at:

From: Matt Mahoney <>
>In section 1.7 you state that existence is preferable to non-existence,
>and that existence is defined as the ability to be perceived. From
>this you conclude that it is the agent's interest to ensure continuous
>This is the crux of your argument. I believe it is flawed. Evolution
>does not define existence as the ability to be perceived. It only
>matters that your genes are propagated.

So far, so good. If you've quoted Pernar correctly, you seem to have
a valid argument against his point of view.

>Humans have a goal of being perceived by other humans. This is called
>"ego". Tribes whose members desire attention have a competitive
>advantage because ego leads to sharing of information, a common
>language, reciprocal attention and friendship, and ability to organize
>into companies and armies.

This is less good. You're advocating group selectionism here.
Apparently group selectionism is a rare event and individual selection
is much more common:

We don't need to bring tribes into the conversation to provide an
evolutionary explanation of why humans want to be perceived by other
humans. Genetic survival of the individual certainly requires the
individual be perceived by a potential mate. More broadly,
individuals benefit in several ways from social interaction, and
social interaction is only possible if the individual is perceived by

Tim Freeman      

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Wed Jul 17 2013 - 04:01:02 MDT