"There will never be a Post-Darwinian Transition. There will always be selection pressure."
So long as there is ageing and death - i.e. for many centuries and perhaps millennia - there will indeed be selection pressure. But in the new reproductive era, the nature of that selection pressure will be different. In the old Darwinian era, "natural" selection is based on random genetic variations i.e. genetic mutations that are random with respect to what is favoured by natural selection; and it is blind. Nature has no foresight. By contrast, post-Darwinian, "unnatural" selection will be neither blind nor random nor socially unregulated. For reproductive decisions will be taken by informed actors in anticipation of the likely neuropsychological effects of suites of alleles that are purposely pre-selected or designed. Genes predisposing to vicious traits that were adaptive in our Darwinian past will be at a selective disadvantage when we choose the attributes of our offspring, not through a cruel genetic lottery as at present, but by rational design.
The imminent arrival of cloning and designer babies brings profound ethical dilemmas of its own - not least because the new reproductive technologies will precede any post-abolitionist era of mature paradise-engineering. As life-span increases, and the ageing process is progressively defeated, will reproductive decisions remain the prerogative of individuals as now? Or will reproductive decisions be taken societally? All one's libertarian instincts will be alarmed at this prospect. But the carrying capacity of the earth won't allow more than 50 to 100 billion people at most. Either way, there will be selection pressure in the sense that some genes and behavioural dispositions will lose out - at least until we become quasi-immortals and reproduction effectively ceases.
Of course, this heralded post-Darwinian Transition might not be to a civilisation based on paradise-engineering. Post-Darwinian society may be based on something else altogether. Yet because the texture of suffering isn't adaptive per se, whatever its current role in our legacy wetware, we can predict that the unsavoury genetic coalitions that manufacture its substrates will pass into evolutionary history.
4.27 ...paradise-engineering is impossible...not evolutionarily stable... 4.28 ...contradiction...abolitionism can't be reconciled with an absence of compulsion... 4.29 ...why invoke nanotechnology ...isn't genetic engineering enough...? 4.30 ..."pushy" parents will choose genotypes for children who are smart, driven and successful rather than happy... 4.31 ...persistence of "natural" reproducers with Darwinian genotypes means that suffering won't be abolished... 4.32 ...cosmic HI? Some pitfalls... 4.33 ...why stress gradients of well-being? Wouldn't permanent maximum bliss be ethically better...? 4.34 ...why the headlong rush? Let's wait until we have the wisdom to understand the implications of what we're doing... 4.35 ...the Simulation Argument suggests suffering can never be abolished...
E-mail Dave : firstname.lastname@example.org