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.

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