Re: Sperm Wars

From: S.Harnad (
Date: Mon Nov 17 1997 - 18:31:10 GMT

> From: Sonia Whitehead <>
> How far does a person go to achieve reproductive success?
> For example, a rapist is often successful reproductively but
> they are at risk of going to jail , being spawned by the
> public or transmitting an STD. In each case the rapist will
> not be around to care for their children so how does he know
> they are being cared for and are likely of carrying his genes
> to the next generation. Surely to be successful
> reproductively the children have to survive and be cared for.
> The best strategy is for another man to take good care of the
> child but often if a woman is raped they will abort the
> foetus or behave aggressively towards it when it is born.
> In this case the man has been too greedy and aggressive and
> therefore failed to be successful. It could be said that the
> rapist's trait of stirving to reproduce at all costs has
> perhaps gone too far causing the man to fail to carry his
> genes onto the next generation.

You need to re-think this sorting out the distal from the proximal, and
current times from the EEA.

> Symons stated that human behaviour is uniquely flexible and
> successful in responding to environmental variation but the
> goals which motivate behaviour are inflexible. Men lose out
> more from infidelity as they might use all their energy in
> caring for a child who might not be his, this can explain why
> men can act aggressively towards theur partner. Therefore, if
> a man who abused his girlfriend became socially unpopular,
> the man might alter his behaviour but his goal of striving to
> protect himself from rearing another man's child will stay
> the same. Instead he could strive to keep his girlfriend
> interested in him and act romantically so that she would not
> be tempted to be unfaithful and have another man's baby. Am
> I right in saying that trait for the goal rather than the
> methods of achieving the goal will be carried on to the next
> generation.

You have to distinguish between unconscious goals shaped by the EEA
(such as the woman's goal to have the most committed but also the fittest
partner(s), two goals that are to a certain extent at odds; and the
man's goal to commit time/energy only to children that are most probably
his own and to inseminate as many women as possible over and above
that) and conscious goals of today, such as spacing your children and
having only a few, not giving the neighbours anything to gossip about,
marrying, divorcing, finding a partner who will let you pursue a
professional career, etc. For the unconscious goals, both the goals and
the methods of achieving them are inherited, though flexible (that's in
part what Robin Baker was trying to show us in our contemporary
condom culture: that the gaols of the EEA still have ways to make
themselves felt).

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