Saturday, December 4, 2010

Driven By Sex?

Tell me it ain't so, batman, that we're motivated only by our desires to have sex. 

It ain't so robin.  We're also driven by our desires of safety and peace.

Yeah, maybe you're right. But what if we want safety and peace just so that we survive, so that we have a safe place for our offspring?

Now your confusing two issues Robin.  Sex and sexual reproduction are distinct and separate.  I mean, look at me.

Oh Batman, I suppose that's right.  Maybe.  Then again, how would we know whether it was right or not?  Maybe when we act for sex, the sexual act, we're also, and always, acting in our reproductive capacity, one that links our concerns for general concepts like justice with our own ability to live and procreate.

Robin, you sly dog you.  Get on your knees and bark like the dog you are.

Ruff batman, ruff ruff.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Batman is completely wrong on this one. Robin is wrong too, though only partly so. Sex and sexual reproduction are definitely not separate. But the way they are connected is more complicated than "when we act for sex we're acting in our reproductive capacity."

The reason they're wrong is a mistake commonly made when thinking about evolution, which is assuming that humans are fitness-maximizers. We do not act with the deliberate goal of maximizing our alleles' inclusive genetic fitness. But the desires for things other than genetic fitness than we've evolved make us do things that, on average, increase our fitness. What's true on average, however, isn't true all the time, so it's actually quite trivial that our sexual desires sometimes seem to have nothing to do with reproduction.

That's one thing. The other is that our sexual desire evolved in times very different from ours and so, fitness-wise, is maladjusted to the realities of the modern world. Our sexual desire is an adaptation fitted to ancestral conditions that included things like extremely low life expectancy and high infant mortality, much shorter span of reproductive lives, and much lower population density, which modern humans execute in a completely new context that includes cheap contraception, porn and sexual advertising, as well as access to orders of magnitude more of potential sexual partners.