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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Uncommon Descent Contest Question 17: Why do evolutionary psychologists need to debunk compassion?

Well, it certainly sounds like debunking to me. According to the evolutionary psychologists, either compassion is a useful gene or it somehow spreads our selfish genes or it is an accidental "spandrel" in our makeup. Or whatever. It's not a choice, and it's not identification with another human being derived from the independent reality of a mind thinking today. Humans do it the way ants might do something else.

Evolutionary psychologists never feel the need to debunk rage or deceit, for example, so why compassion?

Here, I reference Robert ("Non-Zero") Wright's effort to explain the evolution of compassion. See also Clive Hayden here and Steve Pinker here.

Darwinists and materialists in general keep scratching this itch. Why? What is the threat? Also, how convincing are their claims that society will be better off if we accept their version?

So, for a free copy of The Spiritual Brain: a neuroscientist's case for the existence of the soul (Mario Beauregard and Denyse O'Leary, Harper One 2007): Why do evolutionary psychologists need to debunk compassion? What's in it for them?

Here are the contest rules. Four hundred words or less. Winners receive a certificate verifying their win as well as the prize. Winners must provide me with a valid postal address, though it need not be theirs. A winner's name is never added to a mailing list. Have fun!

(Note: For the record, compassion is not necessarily a virtue. The social worker who inappropriately identifies with an abusive mom, as opposed to the child she is employed by the government to protect, is showing misdirected compassion that can end in the child's death. Compassion must be allied with reason and virtue in order to count as reasonable or virtuous.)

Here's Uncommon Descent Contest Question 17 at the site, so go there to enter in the Comments box.

Notes on compassion that may be of interest:

Psychology: Compassion is an emotion, not a virtue unless disciplined, prof says

The philosopher and his mother, a moral tale

Entrepreneur doctor honours promise

Desperate atheist rage

Is the altruism spot edging out the God spot in pop science?

The power of one: Compassion is strictly a one-to-one thing

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