Re: Rights and Morality: The Primethic Decision

Gary Lloyd (
Wed, 1 Oct 1997 19:19:54 -0400 (EDT)

At 12:38 PM 10/1/97 -0700, wrote:
>Gary <> writes:
> > Actually, morality seems to favor species survival rather than
> > individual survival,
>I don't understand how you can use "rather" here, since you
>can't have one of these things without the other. If you're
>favoring one, then you're favoring the other. Unless you think
>of the death of an individual conspecific as *not* being an
>injury to the species.

You're quite right. What I should have said was, "morality seems to favor
species survival over individual survival." Individuals have been known to
sacrifice themselves for others, progeny in particular.

>But I do think morality is far and away
>more a memetic phenomenon than a genetic one, although it's true
>that these two domains are messily intertwingled with one

What I am talking about is the basis of morality, i.e. universal morality,
not particular morals systems. I think we need a new word here. How about

The Primethic Decision = a personal choice to the effect that proportionate
defense against aggression is *moral* and aggressive behavior which elicits
a defensive response is *immoral*.

What do you think?

>Genetic selection certainly happens at the individual level, not
>the species or gene level... it is not actual genes that get weeded
>out by natural selection, but individual zygotes, particular
>combinations of genes. It's only the additive effect of natural
>selection upon us zygotes that results in modifications to the gene
>pool. That's why biological evolution is so much slower than
>cultural evolution.
>At the memetic level, on the other hand, conscious selection can
>be as fine-grained as we like. I can consciously decide that X is
>a bad idea, and discard it. If I have trouble discarding it, then
>I can start making fun of it, and encouraging my friends to joke
>about it, and that often drives the demon out.

The primethic decision may or may not be instinctive, but it does seem to be
widespread, and I think, either way, it provides a solid foundation for a
free (consensual) society.

When the boot of government is on your neck,
it doesn't matter if it's left or right.