Tuesday, May 20, 2008
George Orwell noted the real test of character is how you treat someone who has no possibility of doing you any good. That's a pretty good definition, one many (most?) people I think would fail. See here on the sociobiology of ethics that is not strictly self-interested. I think it is important to note that Dawkin's wonderful Book, The Selfish Gene, argued that George Williams and William Hamilton found that the real mechanism wasn't at the species level, but the individual, if not genetic level, and was targeted at those who argued that species somehow act in their collective self interest. But whereas Dawkins was railing against an overstretch, the group selection mechanism is not totally bankrupt. Selection can operate at several levels: gene, individual, group.