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Old 04-03-2011, 02:09 AM
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detritus detritus is offline
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Seattle
Posts: 34

Originally Posted by Tonberry View Post
I'll admit that I don't fully understand evolutionary biology, but I'm not sure why producing offspring would be the only definition of success, or why you'd want to only care for your own offspring.
You can transmit other things than your genes, and from an evolutionary point of view it seems to me it certainly benefits the whole species when you take care of younglings that might grow to heal others, and so on. Obviously, for the species to survive, you need to carry on genes, but producing offsprings that survive to reproduce doesn't seem to me to be the only thing. Making sure people, whether your own offsprings or not, live to reproduce is also a good thing. Sometimes, having less offspring to give the ones who survive a better chance is good too.

I think there is a lot of benefit in social creatures to being there are a parent figure, with or without transmitting your genes. I'm speaking of both genders here, you have lots of stories about female animals who adopt and raise an orphan (sometimes of a different species, too), I think these provide advantages as well as they grow to help the rest of the tribe, as well as yourself when you're old. I think it carries the whole tribe and the whole species up.

There is much to survival of the species than sharing your genes is what I'm getting at. Sometimes, it might even be better to make sure you don't share them if you carry something that would endanger future generations or make them weaker. I don't think the species is as simple as each individual selfishly reproducing their own genes, I think there are also cooperative ways that we act naturally and that from an evolutionary point of view are useful to the species, yet have nothing to do with reproduction.

Actually, selection pressures don't act upon the species as a whole. Most research supports Dawkins' theory that evolution acts at the level of individual genes, although I think there are a number of biologists that disagree and believe it acts at the individual level. Basically, there is almost always a higher level of competition between individuals of the same species than there is between entire species or populations. Most kind acts that look selfless (caring for unrelated young, etc) have their basis in pretty selfish motivators (if I care for their young, they will return the favor later). If you are interested in learning more, I highly recommend Dawkins' Selfish Gene or Stephen Jay Gould's The Panda's Thumb.

That's not to say that we shouldn't be cooperative or kind. It's dangerous to take moral cues from evolutionary processes, it's just that I find them pretty fascinating.
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