I came across this in a post about a psychological trait known as affective empathy*:
[I]f affective empathy helps people to survive and reproduce, there will be more and more of it in succeeding generations. If not, there will be less and less.
I’ve run across similar assertions about other traits in my occasional reading about evolution. But is it true that if X helps people to survive and reproduce, X will proliferate?
Survival and reproduction depend on many traits. A particular trait, considered in isolation, may seem to be helpful to the survival and reproduction of a group. But that trait may not be among the particular collection of traits that is most conducive to the group’s survival and reproduction. If that is the case, the trait will become less prevalent.
Alternatively, if the trait is an essential member of the collection that is conducive to survival and reproduction, it will survive. But its survival depends on the other traits. The fact that X is a “good trait” does not, in itself, ensure the proliferation of X. And X will become less prevalent if other traits become more important to survival and reproduction.
In any event, it is my view that genetic fitness for survival has become almost irrelevant in places like the United States. The rise of technology and the “social safety net” (state-enforced pseudo-empathy) have enabled the survival and reproduction of traits that would have dwindled in times past.
I’m only making an observation. Eugenics is the province of the left.
* Affective empathy is defined by the same writer as the
capacity not only to understand how another person feels but also to experience those feelings involuntarily and to respond appropriately.
* * *
Luck-Egalitarianism and Moral Luck
Empathy Is Overrated
IQ, Political Correctness, and America’s Present Condition
Evolution and Race
Income Inequality and Economic Growth
Egoism and Altruism
Evolution, Culture, and “Diversity”
A Case for Redistribution, Not Made
Greed, Conscience, and Big Government
Ruminations on the Left in America
The Harmful Myth of Inherent Equality
Not-So-Random Thoughts (XI) (first entry)