Theft, Slavery and Rape Explained By Selfish Gene Theory
Posted by Michael Dickens on August 20, 2009
In The Selfish Gene, the reader was encouraged to consider how seemingly altruistic behaviors are actually selfish. I will now examine this for the cases of theft, slavery, and rape. That is, why do people consider these actions to be wrong?
We live in a community of people and we know each other’s personalities. If Edward Evil starts stealing from people, he will get a reputation as a thief (if people find out, that is, which they likely will). He will be pushed away: it is in the selfish interest of every other member of society to not be anywhere near a thief. Thus, the thief will then not get the benefits that come out of living in a society, such as an easier time getting food and finding a mate.
This one is easy. Sure, you may be able to propagate your genes. But it won’t matter, since no woman will ever want to sleep with you again. It is against a woman’s self-interest to be raped; so if someone is a known rapist, other women will avoid him. (This is all assuming that the males are the ones doing the raping, but it works the same if you flip it around.)
As we have seen in the past, many people do not believe that slavery is wrong. Today’s ideas are largely cultural. However, it is still a relatively wide-spread belief. Why? This one’s tricky. Perhaps slaves tend to rebel and harm their masters. I don’t know. What do you think?