Genocidal Altruists

A friend asked if I’d consider writing something on human nature for the evolution-themed website This View of Life, which was just published today. I really struggled with it and kept putting it down and picking it back up again because it seemed like well-worn territory and I wasn’t sure if I was saying anything new. Anyway, I came up with an essay I first titled “Conflict, Cooperation, and Complex Apes” (the complex apes being us, of course). This was changed to “Genocidal Altruists,” a much catchier title I have to admit. In a nutshell…

The challenge is not to figure out whether our species is inherently violent or altruistic, but why both extreme capacities are found within a single species, and what circumstances and social structures facilitate or impede those behaviors.”


Homer’s inner angel and devil. Which one we listen to probably depends on many factors.

2 thoughts on “Genocidal Altruists

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.