1 2 3 >  Last ›
 
   
 

Have human beings evolved/devolved socially? 

 
Brick Bungalow
 
Avatar
 
 
Brick Bungalow
Total Posts:  5562
Joined  28-05-2009
 
 
 
10 February 2021 21:34
 

I think its reasonable to presume that homo sapiens were in the past (and perhaps are still) self interested creatures with a fairly straightforward hierarchy of needs. We need our core temperature to remain stable. We need to breathe and eat and do the things that facilitate metabolism. I believe anthropologists will generally agree that our social skills developed initially because of genetic interest. We may value certain social goods over and above our personal existence but its likely that even this develops as a trait of a social species that wishes to survive and propagate collectively. Much of what we do is driven by a basic biological directive even though its often subconscious.

I feel pretty comfortable with this thesis generally. I think its a big part of the story about how we arrived. But I wonder if its still true. I feel like their are a number of common human behaviors that become difficult to justify under this umbrella. Most notably things that manifestly contribute to the destruction of the environment and the destruction of human solidarity. Biome destroying pollution. Proliferation of catastrophic weaponry, In-groups that are seemingly built upon nihilism/antinatalism. Junk food. There are lots of other potential behaviors but those are some throwaway examples.

My question, as best I’m able to phrase it, is whether or not one cause of extinction might be a collective loss of the social survival instinct? Is there some precedent for this whether or not homo sapiens qualify?

[ Edited: 10 February 2021 21:37 by Brick Bungalow]
 
Poldano
 
Avatar
 
 
Poldano
Total Posts:  3808
Joined  26-01-2010
 
 
 
11 February 2021 01:16
 

I think the answers to the specific questions you posed lie generally along the lines of, what once didn’t matter now does, and what once did matter no longer does.

When we humans were few and technology simple, our environment took care of our garbage quite adequately.

As we grew in numbers and technology, we didn’t notice at first that nature had difficulty absorbing our garbage. Later, we noticed, but since the damage was limited and appeared localized, we could mostly ignore it.

Eventually, we decided that we had rights, among them the right not to be limited in what we did with our garbage and the right to use nature as we wished with no restrictions. Nature had dealt with us all these years without putting up much of a fuss (that we could tell), so it can well do so indefinitely, and not interfere in our rights.

How dare nature fight back! How dare nature break!

 
 
deodand
 
Avatar
 
 
deodand
Total Posts:  270
Joined  06-01-2021
 
 
 
11 February 2021 06:22
 

The question is poorly posed. 

In framing it genetic self-interest is asserted as the basis of a social instinct, but in asking it a “social survival instinct” is postulated, one where the group wishes to survive and propagate collectively.  These two notions are intrinsically at odds with one another.  It is quite possible, even normal, actually, that organisms undergo selection at the individual level and in fact go extinct because there is no such thing as a “social survival instinct” to ensure the group, as such, thrives; therefore there is no question of its “collective loss” relative to extinction.  Anthropologists aside this is a central idea of evolutionary biology.

Stated better, the question would go: how is that individuals (or genes) acting in their own self-interest create unsustainable behaviors that emerge at the level of a group, and then these behaviors lead to extinction?

Given the role of cultural evolution in shaping human possibilities, this self-extinction, as it were, may be a unique possibility for homo sapiens.

 
weird buffalo
 
Avatar
 
 
weird buffalo
Total Posts:  1923
Joined  19-06-2020
 
 
 
11 February 2021 08:20
 

If there are too many foxes, they eat all of the rabbits.  Foxes don’t know how to self-regulate their rabbit consumption in order to guarantee the survival of the species.  Foxes don’t always hunt cooperatively, but they do engage in cooperation quite a bit (less than wolves, more than most other species).

Algae doesn’t self-regulate their consumption of nutrients either.  If there’s enough, they just spread and spread until they consume everything.

As a species, we are physically weak.  We aren’t fast or agile enough to catch most animals in our hands.  We aren’t strong enough to kill the things we can catch.  We need to be smarter and cooperate.  That intelligence takes a long time to develop, so we have to care for our young for many years.  Again… more cooperation.  The idea of social good and what we’re doing to the environment aren’t linked.  We can engage in social good AND destroy the environment simultaneously.  As a living organism, we’ve evolved to consume and propagate as much as possible. 

Nature doesn’t evolve a species to self-regulate.  Any form of apparent self-regulation is much more likely to be caused by limitations in resources.  This can make it appear that nature is self-regulating, but it isn’t.  Really, nature is just in a constant state of flux.  Once we zoom out the time scale far enough, it becomes immediately apparent that every species is bound to either die out or become something different.  Then the question is which one will happen to us.

 
EN
 
Avatar
 
 
EN
Total Posts:  22633
Joined  11-03-2007
 
 
 
11 February 2021 10:15
 

One of the ingredients that should be thrown into the social pot is modern social media. We spend so much time “communicating” without personal encounters that we lose some of the guardrails that come with face-to-face meetings. We are much more willing to say nasty things when the person is not right in front of us. The incremental effect of this is social polarization where we start seeing half the world as evil.  We can call people Satanic baby-eaters and such, whereas we would rarely say something like that in the presence of the person. We are losing the skill of social interaction, and that can lead to increased risk of non-survival.

 
burt
 
Avatar
 
 
burt
Total Posts:  16399
Joined  17-12-2006
 
 
 
11 February 2021 11:13
 
deodand - 11 February 2021 06:22 AM

The question is poorly posed. 

In framing it genetic self-interest is asserted as the basis of a social instinct, but in asking it a “social survival instinct” is postulated, one where the group wishes to survive and propagate collectively.  These two notions are intrinsically at odds with one another.  It is quite possible, even normal, actually, that organisms undergo selection at the individual level and in fact go extinct because there is no such thing as a “social survival instinct” to ensure the group, as such, thrives; therefore there is no question of its “collective loss” relative to extinction.  Anthropologists aside this is a central idea of evolutionary biology.

Stated better, the question would go: how is that individuals (or genes) acting in their own self-interest create unsustainable behaviors that emerge at the level of a group, and then these behaviors lead to extinction?

Given the role of cultural evolution in shaping human possibilities, this self-extinction, as it were, may be a unique possibility for homo sapiens.

This ignores the extensive research that has been done on cultural evolution. It’s still a hot topic with several lines of work and no overall theory but there is a general consensus that (at least) two levels of selection need to be considered: individual within-group genetic selection and cultural group selection. One approach to this is culture-gene coevolution theory which (in a very limited summary) posits that group selection acting on cultural groups produces a within-group environment that sets selective factors for genetic selection favoring the evolution of prosocial emotions that support group traits such as cooperation that are important for group survival. Thus we have both individual self-preservation instincts and social instincts. And in many cases culture trumps biology, that is, cultural leads to individual behavior that reduces individual inclusive fitness. A prime example is that in modern cultures members of the elites have small families whereas biologically those with the financial means to support large numbers of children should be spreading their genes as widely as possible. But culturally, small families are preferred and, from a global perspective, this is favorable for group survival. What culture does, in part, is to provide socially functional channels for the expression of instinctive behavior and we participate in maintaining and changing culture according to perceived need.

 
deodand
 
Avatar
 
 
deodand
Total Posts:  270
Joined  06-01-2021
 
 
 
11 February 2021 11:51
 

I don’t think so because the two issues are different. 

Current group-selection theory refers to the group as unit of selection within a species, where selection acts so that “individual” traits within the group spread with along with the group’s reproductive success. This idea is opposed to the species as a group having a “social survival instinct” to collectively thrive.  As you indicate, this theory is one explanation how social instincts among individuals within a group can develop and spread, without appealing to selection acting on ‘what is good for the group.’
 
As I read them, current multi-level selectionists go to great pains to differentiate these two senses of “group” in evolutionary theory.

I acknowledged the role of gene-cultural co evolution in the way you describe, indirectly, by stating that cultural evolution may create a unique possibility for homo sapiens for “self-extinction,” just as it creates one for “self domestication.”

The original question, and its framing, muddles these two sense of “group” and “social instinct” together, and both our posts, in different ways, clarify this.

 
weird buffalo
 
Avatar
 
 
weird buffalo
Total Posts:  1923
Joined  19-06-2020
 
 
 
11 February 2021 12:09
 
burt - 11 February 2021 11:13 AM
deodand - 11 February 2021 06:22 AM

The question is poorly posed. 

In framing it genetic self-interest is asserted as the basis of a social instinct, but in asking it a “social survival instinct” is postulated, one where the group wishes to survive and propagate collectively.  These two notions are intrinsically at odds with one another.  It is quite possible, even normal, actually, that organisms undergo selection at the individual level and in fact go extinct because there is no such thing as a “social survival instinct” to ensure the group, as such, thrives; therefore there is no question of its “collective loss” relative to extinction.  Anthropologists aside this is a central idea of evolutionary biology.

Stated better, the question would go: how is that individuals (or genes) acting in their own self-interest create unsustainable behaviors that emerge at the level of a group, and then these behaviors lead to extinction?

Given the role of cultural evolution in shaping human possibilities, this self-extinction, as it were, may be a unique possibility for homo sapiens.

This ignores the extensive research that has been done on cultural evolution. It’s still a hot topic with several lines of work and no overall theory but there is a general consensus that (at least) two levels of selection need to be considered: individual within-group genetic selection and cultural group selection. One approach to this is culture-gene coevolution theory which (in a very limited summary) posits that group selection acting on cultural groups produces a within-group environment that sets selective factors for genetic selection favoring the evolution of prosocial emotions that support group traits such as cooperation that are important for group survival. Thus we have both individual self-preservation instincts and social instincts. And in many cases culture trumps biology, that is, cultural leads to individual behavior that reduces individual inclusive fitness. A prime example is that in modern cultures members of the elites have small families whereas biologically those with the financial means to support large numbers of children should be spreading their genes as widely as possible. But culturally, small families are preferred and, from a global perspective, this is favorable for group survival. What culture does, in part, is to provide socially functional channels for the expression of instinctive behavior and we participate in maintaining and changing culture according to perceived need.

Except the evidence also suggests that humans are more likely to favor a situation where they can invest heavily in 1-2 children instead of having lots of children and investing lightly… when given the choice.

All around the world birth rates have fallen dramatically over what they were 100 years ago, even in poor places.  The places where birth rates tend to be high are those suffering from long term wars and/or famine.  When the likelihood of an individual child surviving increases, the necessity for multiple births decreases.  There will of course be individual variance, but a mother with healthy children who have good prospects is more likely to choose to invest in those existing children OVER having more.

This of course makes sense when you consider that it takes at least 13-15 years for humans to really start being independent, and a full 25 years until we reach complete maturity.  Raising an individual is expensive and time consuming.  As a species we are better off concentrating those resources when possible.  The fact that rich and poor mothers routinely choose this across cultures would support that idea.

 
Jan_CAN
 
Avatar
 
 
Jan_CAN
Total Posts:  3855
Joined  21-10-2016
 
 
 
11 February 2021 18:10
 
Brick Bungalow - 10 February 2021 09:34 PM

My question, as best I’m able to phrase it, is whether or not one cause of extinction might be a collective loss of the social survival instinct? Is there some precedent for this whether or not homo sapiens qualify?

The social traits (culture) that evolved over thousands of years were suited for small groups, for tribes, but left us ill equipped to exist as cooperatively in complex societies let alone with millions/billions (which will become even more critical with climate change).  Smart enough to become the dominant species and swarm the planet, but not smart enough to handle it – there wasn’t enough time to evolve the intelligence and unselfishness that would ensure our species a long future.  Our only hope is not further evolution or the limited tribal instincts we still possess, but a conscious effort to modify our behaviours – to force ourselves to see the big picture and solve the big problems.  Sadly, I don’t know if we have it in us – some individuals do – but as a species we might very well be ‘the flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long’.

 
 
weird buffalo
 
Avatar
 
 
weird buffalo
Total Posts:  1923
Joined  19-06-2020
 
 
 
11 February 2021 18:25
 

The normal span for a species is from 1-10 million years.  We’re at 200,000 right now.

 
Jan_CAN
 
Avatar
 
 
Jan_CAN
Total Posts:  3855
Joined  21-10-2016
 
 
 
11 February 2021 18:33
 
weird buffalo - 11 February 2021 06:25 PM

The normal span for a species is from 1-10 million years.  We’re at 200,000 right now.

Yeah, we have a ways to go if we want to make it even ‘half as long’.

 
 
Poldano
 
Avatar
 
 
Poldano
Total Posts:  3808
Joined  26-01-2010
 
 
 
12 February 2021 00:03
 

individual selection and group-level selection are at least somewhat at odds with each other. I think it is another example of group-payoff versus individual-payoff gamesmanship, or as I have called it elsewhere zero-sum or positive-sum gamesmanship. I think the threat that Brick is talking about is caused by the potential collapse of group-payoff (positive-sum) strategic agreements for individual-payoff (and usually zero-sum) self-interest maximization strategies which ostensibly require no agreements.

My previous post was a sideways attempt to show that gaming strategies depend on implicit assumptions about reality that are not always valid, and may become invalid as a result of successful implementation of any strategy. Simple game theory schemas don’t usually show this. Moreover, lack of complete information as well as lack of knowledge of the extent of incompleteness are always factors in the application of game theory to real-world situations, unlike designed games which almost always clearly define whatever information is lacking, if any (e.g., chess, poker, blackjack). Even purely random designed games like craps rely on predictable randomness.

Anthropologist Joseph Henrich has written a book, The WEIRDest People in the World, wherein he maintains that Westerners, meaning Europeans and Americans, share a culture with much different moral expectations than most of the rest of the world. Basically, he says Westerners practice impersonal morality to a large extent, while non-Westerners tend to practice a morality that is based on intensive family-based personal relationships. Cultures and economies based on impersonal morality depend upon the practice of impersonal justice. In a well-functioning system of this type, general societal disapproval of violations of impersonal justice help enable the entire system to function. Henrich asserts that the Western impersonal morality system is not “naturally” evolved but was a side-effect of the Roman Catholic Church’s restrictions against cousin-marriage in “collusion” with the Merovingian kingdom, climaxing in the so-called Protestant work ethic. I speculate that when such systems break down, moral expectations tend to become more personal, and may return to the more “natural” form of kin-based personal morality.

I advise reading the book before launching serious diatribes against Henrich, because I’m still trying to digest its implications and have not committed to it. It seems to me, however, that much of what we have been discussing lately involves some aspects of what he talks about, and may be useful in providing some clarifying theoretical background for the muddle that usually results from our discussions.

With respect to this thread, what Brick may be sensing is a degradation of the moral support for capitalism as we know it, which is impersonal morality. Personal morality, by contrast, doesn’t put as much onus on treating strangers fairly as on benefiting one’s in-group, which is traditionally extended family including relatives by marriage. Consider that in terms of tort law and people’s ability to enforce civil contracts without the ability to afford better lawyers than the opposition. If capitalism as we know it degrades, it isn’t necessarily going to be replaced by socialism or any economic form we could easily recognize. The replacement may be something like a family-based mercantilism, leaving those without a powerful and wealthy family on the outside.

Game-wise, the reversion from impersonal morality to personal morality based on kinship/group affiliation would seem to dissolve the group selection basis of whole societies or socioeconomic classes, and replace it with one based on kinship or other form of affiliation. It might be quite accurate to call such a development social and cultural devolution.

 
 
deodand
 
Avatar
 
 
deodand
Total Posts:  270
Joined  06-01-2021
 
 
 
12 February 2021 06:18
 

Henrich is required reading in our program.  Most of our test subjects are WEIRD, a shortcoming we can’t do much about.

You might be right about the devolution from impersonal morality to group-identity based morality.  Surely identity politics is nothing if not a shift in that direction, and now that identity politics has become SOP for the liberal elite, it’s becoming SOP among the conservative masses (aka Trumpism) as well. This is probably a coincidence based on an underlying cause, not one of x preceding and causing y.  So what, one might ask, is that underlying cause?  Why this shift from impersonal, principles-based morality (as much as this is possible as an ideal) to identity in-group based morality (which has always been a reality, but until recently not the ideal)?

To be sure, identity-group moralists still insist they are being impersonal, in so far as being “personal” is affiliated with being “biased.”  But that’s just virtue signaling: no one wants to believe their morality is a cookie cut from the group with which they identify, applied mindlessly.  Here in the US,  however, it does seem that people who stand on principle are increasingly rare, increasingly marginalized, and increasingly impotent to bring about social change.  My only reservation with calling this “devolution” is it implies a teleology to evolution, as though later forms are ‘more advanced’ or ‘more adaptive’ than earlier forms.  But remove that possible connotation and I think it’s fair to say we are seeing a devolution from one form of moral judgment to another, both with respect to prevalence in the real world and as an ideal against which to shape that real world, to better suit our needs.

 
burt
 
Avatar
 
 
burt
Total Posts:  16399
Joined  17-12-2006
 
 
 
12 February 2021 07:42
 
Poldano - 12 February 2021 12:03 AM

individual selection and group-level selection are at least somewhat at odds with each other. I think it is another example of group-payoff versus individual-payoff gamesmanship, or as I have called it elsewhere zero-sum or positive-sum gamesmanship. I think the threat that Brick is talking about is caused by the potential collapse of group-payoff (positive-sum) strategic agreements for individual-payoff (and usually zero-sum) self-interest maximization strategies which ostensibly require no agreements.

My previous post was a sideways attempt to show that gaming strategies depend on implicit assumptions about reality that are not always valid, and may become invalid as a result of successful implementation of any strategy. Simple game theory schemas don’t usually show this. Moreover, lack of complete information as well as lack of knowledge of the extent of incompleteness are always factors in the application of game theory to real-world situations, unlike designed games which almost always clearly define whatever information is lacking, if any (e.g., chess, poker, blackjack). Even purely random designed games like craps rely on predictable randomness.

Anthropologist Joseph Henrich has written a book, The WEIRDest People in the World, wherein he maintains that Westerners, meaning Europeans and Americans, share a culture with much different moral expectations than most of the rest of the world. Basically, he says Westerners practice impersonal morality to a large extent, while non-Westerners tend to practice a morality that is based on intensive family-based personal relationships. Cultures and economies based on impersonal morality depend upon the practice of impersonal justice. In a well-functioning system of this type, general societal disapproval of violations of impersonal justice help enable the entire system to function. Henrich asserts that the Western impersonal morality system is not “naturally” evolved but was a side-effect of the Roman Catholic Church’s restrictions against cousin-marriage in “collusion” with the Merovingian kingdom, climaxing in the so-called Protestant work ethic. I speculate that when such systems break down, moral expectations tend to become more personal, and may return to the more “natural” form of kin-based personal morality.

I advise reading the book before launching serious diatribes against Henrich, because I’m still trying to digest its implications and have not committed to it. It seems to me, however, that much of what we have been discussing lately involves some aspects of what he talks about, and may be useful in providing some clarifying theoretical background for the muddle that usually results from our discussions.

With respect to this thread, what Brick may be sensing is a degradation of the moral support for capitalism as we know it, which is impersonal morality. Personal morality, by contrast, doesn’t put as much onus on treating strangers fairly as on benefiting one’s in-group, which is traditionally extended family including relatives by marriage. Consider that in terms of tort law and people’s ability to enforce civil contracts without the ability to afford better lawyers than the opposition. If capitalism as we know it degrades, it isn’t necessarily going to be replaced by socialism or any economic form we could easily recognize. The replacement may be something like a family-based mercantilism, leaving those without a powerful and wealthy family on the outside.

Game-wise, the reversion from impersonal morality to personal morality based on kinship/group affiliation would seem to dissolve the group selection basis of whole societies or socioeconomic classes, and replace it with one based on kinship or other form of affiliation. It might be quite accurate to call such a development social and cultural devolution.

Group selection and individual selection are both important. One problem though is that lots of people try to model cultural group selection on population biology an that doesn’t really capture the entire story. The problem is that in genetic selection, the basis for population biology, there are clearly two levels involved: genotype and phenotype. The genotype is conserved through reproduction and is the source of phenotypic variation while selection acts only on the phenotype (not totally true what with epigenetic effects and stuff, but good enough for an overview). So selection on the phenotype determines which genetic variants get transmitted to the next generation. In cultural evolution with group selection there is no distinction between the source of variation and the target of selection. Dan Sperber and the “cultural attractor theory” people consider this a problem for the culture-gene coevolution folk (Richerson, Boyd, Henrich), claiming that they are unable to explain why certain cultural variants persist while others do not. Another approach is culture-worldview coevolution, developed by Liane Gabora. Dwight Read also has some first rate ideas on this (How Culture Makes Us Human). One point is that group selection acts on group traits, but there is no real understanding of what group traits are. In some cases a group trait is just the frequency distribution over the group of an individual trait and that allows group selection to be reduced to inclusive fitness. Other group traits are intrinsic to the group level. So there’s lots of research still going on. (Tooting my own horn: I published a paper last April in Current Anthropology with the title Identity, Kinship, and the Evolution of Cooperation.)

Strategy can lead to mis-perception. My favorite example goes to an old study using Prisoner’s Dilemma. A large group of students were used. Participants were told the nature of the game and how rewards or punishments were allotted. They were quizzed on this to be sure they understood. Then they were surveyed about their understanding of what the goal of the game was. Some said that it was to out guess the other player to win big. They were classified as “competitors.” Others said that the goal was to cooperate with the other player to produce a continuing small profit. They were classed as cooperators. Then the students were randomly paired and played some large number of PD games. Results were what one would expect: two cooperators cooperated, two competitors competed. But with a cooperator and a competitor the cooperator would start the first game cooperating but soon switch over to competition in order to minimize loses. The conclusion was that the competitors learned something that was false: Everybody is a competitor. The cooperators learned something true: Some people are cooperators and some people are competitors.

 
burt
 
Avatar
 
 
burt
Total Posts:  16399
Joined  17-12-2006
 
 
 
12 February 2021 07:51
 
deodand - 12 February 2021 06:18 AM

Henrich is required reading in our program.  Most of our test subjects are WEIRD, a shortcoming we can’t do much about.

You might be right about the devolution from impersonal morality to group-identity based morality.  Surely identity politics is nothing if not a shift in that direction, and now that identity politics has become SOP for the liberal elite, it’s becoming SOP among the conservative masses (aka Trumpism) as well. This is probably a coincidence based on an underlying cause, not one of x preceding and causing y.  So what, one might ask, is that underlying cause?  Why this shift from impersonal, principles-based morality (as much as this is possible as an ideal) to identity in-group based morality (which has always been a reality, but until recently not the ideal)?

To be sure, identity-group moralists still insist they are being impersonal, in so far as being “personal” is affiliated with being “biased.”  But that’s just virtue signaling: no one wants to believe their morality is a cookie cut from the group with which they identify, applied mindlessly.  Here in the US,  however, it does seem that people who stand on principle are increasingly rare, increasingly marginalized, and increasingly impotent to bring about social change.  My only reservation with calling this “devolution” is it implies a teleology to evolution, as though later forms are ‘more advanced’ or ‘more adaptive’ than earlier forms.  But remove that possible connotation and I think it’s fair to say we are seeing a devolution from one form of moral judgment to another, both with respect to prevalence in the real world and as an ideal against which to shape that real world, to better suit our needs.

Recommend my paper in the April 2020 Current Anthropology (Identity, Kinship, and the Evolution of Cooperation). It deals in part with this, using a distinction between “emotions” and “feelings” (Damasio) where the emotions are basic physiological responses to salient cues while the feelings are the mental experience associated with those responses. The emotions are tied directly to biology and biological survival while the feelings are culture-laden. Then group identification (or role identification) gets tied to feelings that act to evoke emotional responses so that felt social identity threats, or threats to the group on which that identity depends are experienced as threats to biological survival. So (extreme example) you insult the football team I favor and I respond by bashing you with a beer bottle.

 
weird buffalo
 
Avatar
 
 
weird buffalo
Total Posts:  1923
Joined  19-06-2020
 
 
 
12 February 2021 08:07
 
deodand - 12 February 2021 06:18 AM

Henrich is required reading in our program.  Most of our test subjects are WEIRD, a shortcoming we can’t do much about.

You might be right about the devolution from impersonal morality to group-identity based morality.  Surely identity politics is nothing if not a shift in that direction, and now that identity politics has become SOP for the liberal elite, it’s becoming SOP among the conservative masses (aka Trumpism) as well. This is probably a coincidence based on an underlying cause, not one of x preceding and causing y.  So what, one might ask, is that underlying cause?  Why this shift from impersonal, principles-based morality (as much as this is possible as an ideal) to identity in-group based morality (which has always been a reality, but until recently not the ideal)?

To be sure, identity-group moralists still insist they are being impersonal, in so far as being “personal” is affiliated with being “biased.”  But that’s just virtue signaling: no one wants to believe their morality is a cookie cut from the group with which they identify, applied mindlessly.  Here in the US,  however, it does seem that people who stand on principle are increasingly rare, increasingly marginalized, and increasingly impotent to bring about social change.  My only reservation with calling this “devolution” is it implies a teleology to evolution, as though later forms are ‘more advanced’ or ‘more adaptive’ than earlier forms.  But remove that possible connotation and I think it’s fair to say we are seeing a devolution from one form of moral judgment to another, both with respect to prevalence in the real world and as an ideal against which to shape that real world, to better suit our needs.

Identity politics isn’t new.

 
 1 2 3 >  Last ›