Response #1

FINALLY. I managed to get myself together and actually post my thoughts on Thesis #1 by Anthropik. It’s taken a month and 3 days since I promised, and it’s short, and the first paragraph doesn’t matter. Here I go, anyway:

Picking Nits

Just because killing someone reduces their utility it does not necessarily mean that loss of utility is profoundly negative. There are other factors involved that aren’t touched upon. Sometimes it will decrease the utility of the group in the short term, but with profoundly positive effect in the long. Imagine you still have 100 people (since that is all the land will support, let’s say) and this incredibly annoying trait has begun to breed. Eventually this trait will become commonplace and will thus decrease the utility of the group far more than the loss of the one individual in the beginning. I say lose the one and increase the short-term happiness of the rest of the group. Since the population will grow to be what the land can support, this one person’s utility will be replaced before too long. Again, this is an overly simplistic nit-picking of an overly simplistic example.

There is a fundamental issue in my mind with the stated premise of this thesis. I say diversity is not the primary good – I say that diversity performs two functions toward the primary good, which is nothing more nor less the continuation of life as a whole: diversity is a result of the expansion of forms of life to fill niches in the environment, and it is also the engine by which those niches are filled. These may sound like the same things, but they most definitely are not.

Diversity as a result

When a niche is open in the circle of life, meaning that there exists an unused method of survival available to organisms that will take advantage of it, some organisms will in fact take advantage of it. Those organisms that do will eventually differentiate from their root stock in ways that capitalize on that survival method.

Doing so accomplishes three functions:

1. The organism become much better suited to making a living in the new mode.

2. The new changes will tend to help it protect that niche by out-competing other organisms that may be considering that niche as well.

3. This new population will grow to fill that niche and not crowd the former organism from its place.

Diversity as an engine

The differentiate and change to match ones environment and mode of life, one become a new organism related to its parent, but different enough to be called a new organism. This is diversity in action. In this way, when blight strikes the food supply of one organism and wipes it out, the other organism is not affected. This is one way that diversity helps protect the fact of life itself.

These are only cursory examinations of some of the holes I find in this first thesis. No doubt others can find more, and no doubt others could easily expand on what I have said.

It’s not that I disagree that diversity is good, quite the contrary: I believe it is paramount. I just do not believe it is primary; it’s just a means to an end.

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About gblogswild

I'm learning a few new things from a few new people, whether they know it or not. View all posts by gblogswild

One response to “Response #1

  • Dad

    Diversity is a headless chicken, not a sentient event. It runs around blindly until it finds a niche it fits and, finding such, wedges itself in there trying to fit the niche ever better until it expires. Or, finding no such niche, it merely runs. It is not looking for a niche; the run is entirely unguided by any goal more definite than “away”. Its goal is to run away and finding the niche in the first example is, therefore, actually failure in as much as niche-finding != away.

    Diversity in a system, such as agriculture, merely insures that it takes a super event (major collision with a comet?) to overcome all the various defenses of the individuals. Otherwise one or a few would survive and, in the absence of effective competition, dominate or even form a mono-culture.

    BTW, due to the enormous time scale involved in re-stabilizing such a badly wounded planet and the earth’s habit of swallowing its crust, if such a super event had ever happened in the past there would be absolutely no record of it at all.

    Unless, of course, you count the moon.

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