Is Social Darwinism true

Is Social Darwinism true?

[ 4/June/21 ]

Pascal Morimacil answers many aspects of this very well.

The many dimensions of the modern synthesis of evolution appear to be true in all environments that support some form of replicator with variation – the two major ones being genetic and mimetic replicator complexes (biological and social evolution).

And building a reasonable understanding of the major classes of systems and strategies present and the forms of interactions that are possible, and the sorts of contexts that promote some classes of strategy over others, is a job that requires considerable effort over many years.

There is very little about either social or biological systems that is anywhere near as simple or straight forward as most would like to think.

And there are some fundamental ideas that are universal.

One of the really basic ones is that all forms of structure require some degree of reliability over time and space.

Anything entirely random, is destructive of complexity, necessarily.

Every form of structure has necessary sets of constraints required for its survival.

Such constraints need not be the most simple form of “classical causality” where everything has a necessary and certain cause and effect relationship, and for complexity to exist at all, something reasonably closely approximating classical causality must exist. Large collections of events that are random but within probability constraints can closely approximate classical causality.

When one does actually do sufficient work to start to build a reasonable set of models about the evolution of complexity, it becomes clear that all new levels of complexity are in fact based upon new levels of cooperation, and any form of raw competition is destructive of complexity.

We human beings are the most complex life form we yet know of, and are therefore, by definition, the most cooperative life form we know of in existence.

Thus many of the extremely simplistic notions that competition is necessary for freedom and for the survival of humanity are in fact completely wrong, and result from a form of intellectual laziness and over simplification and a failure to adequately explore the deeply dimensional strategic systems present.

What that means in practice is that any form of “Freedom” that is not accompanied by an appropriate level of “Responsibility” is necessarily destructive – both personally and socially.

And that gets deeply complex when multiple levels and classes and instances of independent sapient agents are present in the same physical space.

Every level of structure demands boundaries for continued existence, and the nature of the boundaries required is often highly context sensitive.

At higher levels of awareness legal and ethical systems are absolutely required, and they need to be responsive to the highly dimensional demands of the complexity actually present.

Hard boundaries tend to become brittle and break, and boundaries do need to be sufficiently tough to do the job demanded of them.

Nothing simple.

Responsibility is required of every one of us, to the best of our necessarily limited and fallible abilities.

So social Darwinism does seem (on the basis of vast evidence sets) to be how things actually work, and in the social sense, that demands both cooperation and responsibility from each and every one of us, and it demands of us that we each make our best endeavours to identify and mitigate any and all levels of “cheating strategy” on any and all levels of cooperation required for our existence.

So in this sense, Social Darwinism is a very different thing from the very simplistic notion of natural selection that many have.

In this very deep sense of understanding something of the extremely complex systemic landscapes that allow for the emergence and continuance of complex systems like ourselves, it means understanding that simple ideas of competition being good only work if built upon a firmly cooperative base that does in practice have effective measures for detecting and removing cheating strategies at every level of complexity present, and does in practice meet the reasonable needs of all agents present.

Freedom without such responsibility will necessarily self destruct – it is only a matter of time.

And cooperation is nothing like control.

Cooperation demands agreement, and in this sense is at the heart of any working democracy. That is often a difficult, slow and frustrating process, which is what lies behind the famous quip that democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) - see
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