Re: Objective standards of conduct [was Re: Dyson (Was: Paths to Uploading)]

Scott Badger (
Tue, 12 Jan 1999 19:07:25 -0600

Dick Gray wrote:

>>Depends on what you call "infidelity". Some species are promiscuous,
>>mate for life. In those species where promiscuity is the norm, it's
>>perfectly "acceptable" behavior. Promiscuity is not infidelity, since no
>>long-term bond of trust is expected. Individuals of species with a
>>tradition of "marriage" OTOH are seldom observed to violate the bond--and
>>those who practice infidelity often face sanctions.
>Samael replied:
>>The article included geese (long thought to mate for life) and found that
>>they in fact didn't. They just hid it very well (it used genetics to
>>parentage and found it wasn't what it should have been).
>This is a case where the initial theory - that geese are strictly
>monogamous - turned out to be wrong. So the existence of "infidelity" is
>largely illusory.
>>It also looked at
>>primate (I think chimpanzees) and found that some of them were expert at
>>arranging assignations. One particularly amusing example was of two
>>chimpanzees pretending to forage with their top halves while having sex
>>their bottom halves, both of them surpressing the normal chimpanzee mating
>>noises (which are rather loud).
>Chimps have long been known to be promiscuous. The main constraint is the
>fact that dominant males try to reserve the females to themselves, causing
>the subordinate males to be sneaky about mating opportunities. Again this
>is not an instance of "infidelity". Fornication is not (necessarily)

I also remember seeing a show that discussed another type of bird. I don't remember the species but it was a common North American bird always thought to be the kind that mated for life. Turns out the females who did not
get the primo males on the first round picks went ahead and formed nests with the less than desirable males. IOW, they settled. But when these less than desirable males were away from the nest on some project, the females flew to the nests of the more desirable males and got impregnated. This was easy to verify when the DNA of the eggs were examined. Do the ideas of infidelity or adultery seem "illusory" in this case?

I recall this story because it struck pretty damn close to home for me.

Scott Badger