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Discussion for "religion comments others menu owen"

Comment by Bryson on 2007-03-27 at 11:07:15:

What's is the scientific basis that self sacrifice, helping others etc are good?


Comment by OJB on 2007-03-27 at 14:13:05:

Self sacrifice and helping others has been studied by anthropologists and biologists, in fact I've heard several articles about this in recent podcasts (I think form the journal Nature).

Basically, it gets back to the fact that humans are cooperative, social animals and there is an evolutionary advantage to cooperating with others of the same species. First, because they might reciprocate when you need help, and second, because within the group there are likely to be many people related to you.

There's no real mystery about this process.


Comment by Bryson on 2007-03-28 at 09:02:35:

You say that humans are cooperative, social animals. Saying that self-sacrifice etc is good because it gives advantage, seems to be just-so. How does the organism, human or otherwise, know there is an advantage (to itself or its community) to take this or that cooperative action? Cooperation can be seen to be an advantage by reasoned minds, but how does it begin or continue for organisms that have no reasoning minds? (Even among reasoning minds (related or not) cooperation seems difficult!) Also, cooperation is a lot different than self-sacrifice, where the individual gives up security of existence to another.


Comment by OJB on 2007-03-28 at 09:16:38:

There is no way an organism can know for sure ahead of time whether a sacrificial behaviour will result in benefit for itself, but on average it works. As long as the benefit occurs often enough for the individual to gain an advantage, there will be evolutionary selective pressure on that behaviour.


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