Re: Pricing Compassion

Kathryn Aegis (
Fri, 21 Feb 1997 03:05:53 +0000

I am glad that you have tackled this question, as it often raises
itself in my mind as well.
Lee Daniel Crocker:
>Benevolence and non-violence are probably not evolutionarily stable
>strategies, in that they are susceptible to exploitation.

I refer you to Franz de Waal's _Peacemaking Among Primates_, which
contains ethological studies of various primate species. He wrote the
book upon the discovery that each primate species has a unique social
structure that contains a component of resolving disputes in a
nonviolent manner, and that the behavior could be actively instigated
by one or more members of the group.

The view that those who practice nonviolence and acts of benevolence
are somehow more vulnerable fails to take into account the economic
aspects of such behavior. You mentioned that one on one relationships
can be viewed as a contract--well, so can larger societal relationships.
Acts of benevolence cement the contracts, and they also represent
expenditures that can be recouped in a later time of need. The social
contract: If person A carries out an act of benevolence towards person
B, and later person A is in need, it may not necessarily be person B who
grants an act of benevolence to person A, but person C would upon the
expectation that s/he would also be helped in a time of need. Acts of
non-benevolence will break this contract, and acts of violence will
void it altogether.

(Now that nonviolence has been mentioned, I predict that within three
postings we'll have an argument about gun control...prove me wrong,


Kathryn Aegis