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Old 01-21-2009, 12:53 AM   #1
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People must compete to survive

My students have to debate this statement tomorrow. Curious to know what the folks on FYM think.

Thoughts?
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Old 01-21-2009, 01:24 AM   #2
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Seems to me we all survive better with cooperation than competition, social creatures that we are. On the other hand, we may excel with competition. Two separate things.
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Old 01-21-2009, 01:43 AM   #3
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Interesting topic...

One that comes very loaded in this political environment...

This can be twisted many different ways.

Are there any parameters set?
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Old 01-21-2009, 01:45 AM   #4
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My contrarian nature says "not if somebody has already competed for you"

babies can't compete
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Old 01-21-2009, 01:55 AM   #5
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the answer is yes

all species compete for limited resources
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Old 01-21-2009, 02:15 AM   #6
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Extremely loaded.

Which people? Where? If the statement was 'civilisations must compete to survive' I still would think it a bit iffy, but it might at least be a descriptor of how such largescale entities behave.

Must?
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Old 01-21-2009, 02:16 AM   #7
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All species compete for limited resources? Among themselves, or with other species?

Anyhow, we exist outside of nature, while depending on its resources. Red in tooth and claw is not how human society is conceptualised.
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Old 01-21-2009, 02:19 AM   #8
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Competition can lead as much to destruction as to survival.
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Old 01-21-2009, 03:22 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by U2DMfan View Post
My contrarian nature says "not if somebody has already competed for you"

babies can't compete
You wink, but read up on the evolution of mammals and you will find that resource competition between gestating mothers and parasitic embryos is a very important form of competition; it is part of the reason that placental mammals have been so versatile.
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Old 01-21-2009, 03:30 AM   #10
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On a biological level we compete for mates, the survival of our inherited information is dependent on it. That is probably the most relevant issue of competition for most people, and a lot of other competition is arguably reducible to that biological end (with a lot of headroom for superfluous and useless culture, and the fact that culture can be useless from a biological perspective is not necessarily a bad thing).

I would not got as far as adopting Spencerian ethics, but I do think that if you want to succeed in a career you must be ambitious, political, intelligent, and charismatic. Yes we are capable of co-operating, and we are nicer than a simplistic evolutionary model suggests we should be (and that ties into issues of kin selection and reciprocal altruism), but competition is a feature of human society and it has led to some amazing achievements (conquest, moon landings, technological breakthroughs etc.).

It has an important role in economics and politics, in our daily interactions with other people, and within our own families. We aren't just actors who pursue a game-theoretical rational self interest, but a lot of what we intuitively feel we should do happens to match the advantageous strategies developed with those models (the classic tit for tat solution for the iterated prisoners dilemma simulation for instance).

I think that competition is an intrinsic part of human nature, that it will always be part of our character (as opposed to ants, where there is genuine communistic cooperation), and that we can foster a civil society that minimises the harm that our competitive drive causes (so a big yes for safety nets, human solidarity, upward social mobility etc.).
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Old 01-21-2009, 04:03 AM   #11
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What about people who succeed in a career without being charismatic? Because it assuredly happens. Or intelligent? Because that happens too.

Ambitious, I'll give you.
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Old 01-21-2009, 04:19 AM   #12
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"people must compete to survive" pretty much sums up life on the muss bus.
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Old 01-21-2009, 05:18 AM   #13
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hop on the mus bus
come on hop along
get on board the bus
or you'll have to move along

mus bus
yeah yeah yeah
mus bus
yeah yeah yeah
weezer song
piss in your mouth
yeah yeah yeah
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Old 01-21-2009, 05:33 AM   #14
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that sounds like puss 'n guts, kieran.
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Old 01-21-2009, 05:36 AM   #15
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pus in boots, guys.

it's all the rage nowadays.
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