Re: [asa] social evolution for Jon Tandy

From: David Campbell <>
Date: Wed May 13 2009 - 14:27:09 EDT

On Mon, May 11, 2009 at 4:56 PM, Dehler, Bernie <> wrote:
> Dr. Campbell said:
> "20th century history doesn't give good grounds for assuming that things are getting better, though many people assume they are superior to those who came before."
> I strongly disagree.  The fact of WW1 and WW2 isn't necessarily bad.  They were major lessons society undertook.  In fact, they may be a guarantee that WW3 will never happen! (We know better now- nuclear war isn't something that anyone can win).  The new warfare is now economic- competition in the markets.  World domination is now sought through business, for the advanced nations.<

However, I think there's general agreement that the worst
dictatorships of the 20th and 21st centuries are not significantly
better than the tyrannies of the past.

> And yes- maybe I conflated evolution with progress.  Not all evolution is positive, such as dog breeds with certain health issues.  But the best things in life did come from simpler things, through evolution (the nicest car today had many, many predecessors for example).  And innovation is one mechanism of social evolution and technical evolution.<

Evolution can include things that we recognize on other grounds as
progress, especially if there is some correlation between our ideas of
progress and the selective pressures. E.g., in societal evolution one
important factor is the moral beliefs of the society. However, it is
incorrect to assume that everything later is better or earlier is

Dr. David Campbell
425 Scientific Collections
University of Alabama
"I think of my happy condition, surrounded by acres of clams"
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Received on Wed May 13 14:27:49 2009

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