Wednesday, February 25

Genetic Determination and Altruism vs. Selfish

In response to the question we asked in class yesterday: To what extent do Ruse and Wilson favor genetic determination?

I do agree to an extent that behavior can be affected by certain genes. For example it can be compared to those that have a history of diabetes. You are genetically pre-exposed to diabetes. However, I also believe that this definitely is not the only contributor to behavior. Obviously, an individual’s experiences and environment are also factors. This, I think, can be stronger than genetics. In the case of someone who is pre-exposed to diabetes, that person can choose to live a healthy lifestyle and greatly reduce their chances of having diabetes. The same is with the case of genetic determination on human behavior. Someone can go through certain experiences that change their behavior, or influenced strongly by another person. Genes control hereditary characteristics that serve as a foundation to our biological make-up, but the ability of an individual to reason, think, make decisions, and change their mind, I believe, in combination affect the behavior of a person’s behavior not solely genetics. I felt as though the argument made by R and W was strongly favoring of genetic determination of human behavior.

Also, we discussed in class the comparison between being selfish and being altruistic. This discussion made me conclude that perhaps they are intertwined together. Perhaps someone that is altruistic cannot be altruistic without, at the same time, being selfish to an extent. I would like to know what you think about this, but I will explain further what I’m getting at. I think that this can best be explained using examples. For example, when a monkey cries out when there is a predator, the monkey is being selfish to the extent that he wants HIS family to be warned to improve their survival chances. But one could say, what about a sterile worker bee? In the case that the bee goes out to defend the hive, you could say that he is definitely altruistic because he has nothing to gain, no offspring to protect, etc. However, the bee IS being selfish because he wants to insure the survival of HIS hive. Even though he doesn’t directly have offspring, he does have ‘family’. I hope these examples let you see what I’m trying to get at. I think that you have to be selfish to be altruistic, but to a different extent. What do you think?

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