24 Oct

the moral lives of animals pdf

George Williams, perhaps the closest thing there is to a single founding father of the new paradigm, may be going too far when he says that natural selection is “evil.” After all, it created everything benign in human nature as well as everything destructive. They could publish only Wallace’s version of the theory. But in the case of human mental traits whose genetic substratum is still debated — such as the differing sexual appetites of men and women — this inter-ape comparison can be useful. And anyway, even in theory the male mind shouldn’t be designed to make virginity a prerequisite for investment. Thus, ancient Greece developed a cultural tradition whereby boys sometimes pleased men with sexual stimulation. . But as the cellular slime mold attests, the line between society and organism is unclear. can long reflect about a hated person, without feeling and exhibiting signs of indignation or rage.” Darwin’s own assessments of people sometimes had a flavor of retaliation. You may consider these things divinely ordained, or unerringly intuited. Darwin sees that it is the prestige of his allies, not just their number, that will shape public opinion. There’s no clear reason for a sharp trade-off between the two; no reason that feminists of the late 1960s and early 1970s, in insisting on the first kind of respect, had to undermine the second (which, actually, they said they also wanted). After all, it wasn’t news that some young upstart had declared himself an evolutionist and proposed an evolutionary mechanism; it was news that the well-known and respected Charles Darwin had done so. The moral sentiments were designed for a particular environment — or, more precisely, for a particular series of environments, including hunter-gatherer villages and other, earlier, societies that are lost in the mists of prehistory. . Chapter 12: Social Status. First, there is what biologists call “resource extraction.” If female humans, like female hanging flies, can get gifts in exchange for sex, then the more sex partners, the more gifts. The deepest source of this “sense of fairness” is, as Trivers noted, reciprocal altruism. At some point, things began to change, and the value of these impulses began to wane. That, at least, is the suggestion of one biographer, Peter Brent: “[P]erhaps . The book is packed with insight into many current dilemmas. Will it be a richer love, a deeper love, a more spiritual love? She cited the feelings of her sister Sarah Elizabeth, who, fifteen years her senior and still unwed, had mixed emotions about the event. We don’t necessarily think, “I’ll call a friend, rather than some stranger, because a friend will share my warped ideas about what I deserve and what my rivals deserve.” So too with Darwin’s pose of moral anguish: it worked because he didn’t know it was a pose — because, in other words, it wasn’t a pose; he actually felt the anguish. Robert Wright says people present themselves in what’s in their genetic interest to look like. We’ve already explored one realm of deception: sex. If love of children is just defense of our DNA, if helping a friend is just payment for services rendered, if compassion for the downtrodden is just bargainhunting — then what is there to be proud of? FEMALE CHOICE That female apes are, on balance, more reticent than male apes doesn’t necessarily mean that they actively screen their prospective partners. But the word natural has more than one application to moral questions. Are sex crimes an addiction? And the question grows only more intriguing in light of Darwin’s father’s role in forging his son’s selfdoubt. Darwin’s great book, technically speaking, would have been an extension and popularization of another scientist’s idea. If two chimps were fighting, he would step between them with calm authority, ending hostilities without fear or favor. And he once told a boy “that I could produce variously coloured Polyanthuses and Primroses by watering them with certain coloured fluids, which was of course a monstrous fable, and had never been tried by me.”20 The idea here is that childhood lies are not just a phase of harmless delinquency we pass smoothly through, but the first in a series of test runs for self-serving dishonesty. Genes don’t magically sense the presence of copies of themselves in other organisms and try to save them. Parents may be programmed to mold their children into optimal reproductive machines (or, strictly speaking, into machines that would have been optimally reproductive in the environment of our evolution). Genes aren’t clairvoyant, or even conscious; they don’t “try” to do anything. But if you give it to your neighbor, it will help him 9 out of 10. (Though Karl Marx would find much to dislike in the new paradigm, he would find parts of it very appealing.) But Malinowski left no doubt about which sex was choosier. (Hence the dearth of boys who try to seduce their mothers.) Thus a moral code is an informal compromise among competing spheres of genetic self-interest, each acting to mold the code to its own ends, using any levers at its disposal.36 Consider the sexual double standard. In 1989 the evolutionary psychologist David Buss published a pioneering study of mate preferences in thirty-seven cultures around the world. But sometimes it won’t. This logic doesn’t depend on the sex partners’ consciously mulling it over. It is easy to see how the mental machinery of status seeking, in particular, eluded Benedict’s emphasis. — M Notebook (1838)1 Among the things Charles Darwin found troubling about the Fuegian Indians was their apparent lack of social inequality. He may say “I love you” to various women he yearns for, and he may mean it; but he may be more likely to keep meaning it if he doesn’t get them right away. Among common chimpanzees, the food-for-sex swap is less explicit but is evident; male chimps are more likely to give meat to a female when she exhibits the red vaginal swelling that signifies ovulation.24 Human females, of course, don’t advertise their ovulation.

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