apparent self-sacrifice -Reply

Mon Jul 17 21:39:48 MDT 1995

Hans Despain,
After reading your post, I'm feeling a bit disappointed, and I wonder
if all my efforts to present my views have been wasted.

But perhaps you are really trying to he*lp to translate me, and I
would like to appreciate that if it is so.  That is difficult,
however, when I don't think I am accurately represented.

You say that my presentation of my own approach is "very similar to
neo-classical economics", then proceed to give NC examples which
don't seem similar to mine at all.  I have discussed only darwinian
fitness-related costs and benefits only from an individual's point of
view, specifically showing environmental abuses of c/b language.  But
you can tell what I would plot in?  Plot what?  I don't use the word
"utility", much less the concept.

Maybe you present Popper well, I don't claim to know, but isn't it
silly, if he claimed to "get rid of psychology" [I'm not sure what he
thought that includes] that he was still going on about "goals" and

I would never try "_to generalize the method of economic thoery
(marginal utility theory) so as to become applicable to  other
theoretical social sciences_" (Popper 1974) because I've got a better
option.  But I still hope that you were not really imputing all that
to me.

I would just hate to have my view called atomistic when I have worked
to show that I [and evolution] are not.

But if I have been unclear, or there are other obstacles to
understanding and Despain's view is common on the list, I do want to
know that.  'Allo, 'Allo, I am sending, is anyone receiving?
Transmission garbled?  Vocabulary unintelligible?  Translation
unavailable?  Communication desirable?  Mission impossible?

BTW, I do claim that the distinction between "normative" and
"positivist" issues is important and desirable [although not because
of "rationality" or c-b analyses].  Each one is important, and
relations between the two are important.  But if I may concentrate
for one moment on figuring out how things work, then tell me why and
how the how things should be issue comes into it?  [assume that my
work itself is non-exploitative]

For any who might be tempted by this question, please, if you can,
please, please, offer a concrete example, but not the Bomb thing, I'm
not talking about arms manufacturing or nuclear physics here.

Hans Despain, why can they not be separated?  And just because a
theory does not explicitly address ethics, why does that not "allow"
ethical questions?  I can try to pick the best method for
understanding biology, evolution and behavior, but no matter what I
do, I see no way to end up with moral prescriptions as a result.
There is no inherent morality in any of nature or study of nature,
including us human parts of nature.  **We have to make it up by
ourselves**  So, go ahead and ask ethical questions, but I don't see
how the answers will follow from any idea of "how things work".

If you want a theory or method or philosophy or whatever that will
give moral guidance, I don't know where to look, but certainly not in
biology.  I wonder if some people will disagree with this?  Hope to
hear from you all on that one.

Also, does anybody think that a so-called explanation of suicide is a
crucial point on which the relevance of an evolutionary ecology
approach to human behavior is to stand or fall?  I offered some
logical evolutionary speculations only because I was asked, I don't
see anybody else trying to "explain" suicide, and I doubt whether
anyone can.


>>> HANS DESPAIN <HANS.DESPAIN at>  7/17/95, 11:37am >>>
First, like many others (economists) the label of cost-benefit
analysis  might not be the best terminology because of the confussion
which might  emerge between neo-classical economic cost-benefit.
However, Lisa  characterization of her approach is very similar to
the neo-classical.
The difference between neo-classical c-b anaylsis and the what has
been  discussed over the list is that the neo-classical is plotted in
price and  utility space, for Lisa, it would be plotted in
dis-utility and utility  space.  Hence, in this sense her account is
still closer to Popper's  situtional logic (SL).

SL says that if you want to understand the action of X, find out what
X's  goals were and what X perceived his situation to be; X's action
will then  be seen to be one approapriate to that perceived
The problem here for me is that rationality and c-b analysis does not
allow for many ethical questions to be asked, because it is
subs*cribed to  a strict distinction between normative and positivist
issues.  I  contend that such issues should not and cannot be so
easily seperated.

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