The Righteous Mind
PS140O: Projecting Power
Let’s hear from: Yasmine, Emma, Anata, Alisa
Plato: reason could and should be the master
Jefferson: equal partners, independent co-rulers
Hume: reason as the servant of the passions
Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio: brain-damage patients, do not feel; cannot make decisions
gut feelings and bodily reactions = necessary to think rationally
reasoning requires the passions
Hume’s model fit best
Let’s hear from: Megha, Cielo, Sara, Julia
Natural selection is often thought of occurring at the individual-level (or sometimes at the gene-level)
However, in social species, it is possible there is group-level selection such that effective groups are more likely to survive and to be selected
One story: A particularly fast herd of deer who cooperate well will survive over a herd that is slow and uncooperative
Counter story: “the fastest deers were selected, regardless of group membership. Or the most cooperative deers from any herd would be selected, on average, compared to the least cooperative deer”
Also there is an issue of the free rider problem
Why put in effort if you don’t have to?
If you’re willing to be noble and sacrifice your life for your group, your genetics are definitely not passing onto the next generation
Natural selection can happen at multiple levels. For example, at the level of the individual and the level of the group
A gene for self-sacrifice would be selected out in individual selection, but selected in at group level selection. Unless a species was ultrasocial (like bees, termites or ants), such a trait could not survive
Haidt argues humans have become more like bees and act as a group organism
Haidt defines some major transitions in evolution:
Collaboration and sociality and ultrasociality were selected for!
Cultural innovations can lead to genetic mutations (ex. keeping cattle can lead to lactose intolerance)
Could cultural innovations in morality lead to genetic changes?
Richerson and Boyd argue yes!
“Human groups have always been in competition to some degree with neighboring groups”
The groups that figured out (or stumbled upon) cultural innovations that helped them cooperate and cohere in groups larger than the family tended to win these competitions” (Haidt, Ch 9, page 20).
Innovations could include:
Using symbolic markers to show group membership (dyad pairs: wedding rings, group memberships: tattoos, clothing, circumcision)
Learning to live well in groups for survival was called self domestication
Those with antisocial impulses they could not control were likely to be kicked out groups and killed
- When selectively breeding animals like foxes for domestication, changes in behavior and physical appearance occur within thirty generations. That is extremely fast
If humans domesticated themselves, is our pace similar? Is it getting faster?
According to the Human Genome Project, evolution greatly accelerated during the last 50,000 years
Group selection does not require war or violence
Whatever traits help groups to survive better could be traits selected for in this long run
Example: environmental catastrophe
Let’s hear from: Serenidy, Mar, Dunyia, Michael