Re: Mating Mind (was: Diamond, Miller, Gould, Darwin)

From: Robin Hanson (
Date: Sun Jul 02 2000 - 10:27:47 MDT wrote:

> > Thinking it is unfair for kids to get advantages from rich parents
> > ("trust-fund kids") *is* one of the main predictions of my theory.
> To be more exact, I think that your theory would predict that we would think
> it fair to let rich parents lavish money on their kids (a view I suspect that
> most folks hold) but not necessarily fair to let those kids benefit from such
> gifts (a view that, paradoxically or not, people also often hold).

OK, if you could have both those things, yes, people would go for that.

> So far, so good. But you could argue that inheriting wealth from the same
> source from which you inherit your genes signals genetic fitness. Indeed,
> counterintuitively, your theory seems to suggest that *adopted* trust fund
> kids should be regarded as somehow less morally deserving than *natural*
> ones! The theory thus seems to vary from some moral intuitions. Or maybe
> not; as you note, we really need better data about moral intuitions.

This depends on how much of a selection process there is in adoption.If rich folks
are more likely to adopt healthy fit looking children, then
the fact that an adoptee's parents are rich would also signal their fitness.
Of course if this effect is weaker than the direct parent effect in our ancestor's

environment, your conclusion would be right.

> I'm puzzled that you say, "It seems unfair to suffer greatly from having one
> or two specific bad genes." Granted, that probably seems unfair to most
> folks, but doesn't your theory in fact predict that people should regard such
> bad genes as clear signals of unfitness, and thus that people should think
> that suffering from them is not unfair?

The point was that we mainly want a signal about the average fitness of awhole
genome. You could have one or two specific bad genes even if
the rest of your genome were great. Consider Lou Gerig's (sp?) disease.
What a shame that such a fit person suffered from few bad genes.

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