[quote author=“Barry”]Doug replied: Dawkins and Pinker would both agree with this.
Then why are so many biologists and others saying otherwise? Are they all wrong and the sociobiologists and EP’s of Dawkins’/Pinker’s brand right?
Because there is a lot of caricaturing of opponents’ positions in this argument. People who attack Pinker and Dawkins all too often make them into straw men. Neither Pinker nor Dawkins is a “biological determinist”, as neither claims that genes determine behavior, or indeed, even the phenotype. Environment always has an important role to play.
I have quoted elsewhere the original ending to Dawkins’s Selfish Gene, where he says: “We are built as gene machines and cultured as meme machines, but we have the power to turn against our creators. We, alone on earth, can rebel against the tyranny of the selfish replicators. (p. 201)” Now, in this book, Dawkins got perhaps as close as he ever did to biological determinism. But even there, he made quite clear that the determination was not 100%, and that we had the ability to behave in opposition to our genes. Indeed, we do this every time we have sex using contraception.
Both Pinker and Dawkins talk at length about the evolution of cooperation and altruism, and both believe that we have a drive to behave cooperatively that comes from a biological, genetic basis. Both believe that we have dispositions to behave in both self-centered and altruistic ways, and that culture and environment can help determine in which way we actually do behave.
[quote author=“Barry”]Doug: Capitalism, however, and competition generally, are natural states of affairs for humans. They spring up unbidden. Where they are forcibly suppressed this only results in the creation of a “black market”, which is capitalistic in itself and more cutthroat in being illegal and as a result unregulated.
Forgive Doug, fellow humanists, for he knows not of what he speaks.
Based on what evidence? Competition is a clear human trait, indeed it is a trait of animals generally. You yourself have said, above, that humans have the disposition to be self-interested. That’s all it is to say that this is a “natural state of affairs” for us. (Please, let’s not caricature the position by claiming I argue it is our only natural state). Further, barter, exchange and interchange of goods is a cultural universal. This is basically proto-capitalistic. As cultures get more complex and sophisticated, money is invented as the commodity of interchange. Money was developed independently by many human societies for the very purpose of facilitating interchange of goods. Money (as capital) is arguably the most important and critical invention in the evolution of the capitalist system.
Clearly capitalism in the modern sense does require some sort of sophisticated social organization, including laws for property rights and the like.