Thank you for your comments. I'm kind of new to this field of study and find myself immersed in a number of books trying to catch up.
One thing I've noticed is the emphasis placed on adaptation to an environment. Well this is natural as much of evolutionary thought seems to be concerned with fitness landscapes. But there may be something unique about human cultures in that so-called fitness landscapes are being modified by cultural and economic forces. These modifications are often accomplished by one group of this species at the expense of another. In other words - it may not be entirely correct to speak of the entire human species as adapting to a particular environment, but might benifit from additional parameters incorporating social or even class dynamics usually reseved for studies dealing with political economy.
Slavery, for example, has pretty much disappeared from human cultures. At one time it was accepted (though I'm sure the slaves themselves were never polled on the acceptability of their particular condition!) I guess what I'm suggesting is that just as we seek to understand how we as humans adapt to given situations we should not lose sight of the fact that some of these "modern problems" of adjustment are the result of conditions created by one group at the expense of another. No one can deny the fact that vast numbers of humans exist under extremely coercive conditions. Dr. Brody writes: " Restrictions to interactions come in many forms -- social rejection from the school dance, placement in an alternative school program, or prisons. Groups have mechanisms for rejecting members when there is a failure of reciprocity. Prison is one of them." (From an above post "On Prisons...") But this approach seems to suggest that repression is somehow required because certain individuals for one reason or another lack the capacity to properly adjust to the exigencies of a modern culture. It brings up the whole can of worms as to whether a civilization is designed to accomodate human nature, or whether human nature shall have to be modified to satisfy some economic system. I do not personally like the concept of a system designed to produce a few winners and a lot of losers - but that's probably just part of my hyper-empathy
"Child labor in Asia may have produced your running shoes, in spite of the empathy of the children's parents, their Asian employers, the people who imported the shoes and the corporate fatcats who set the deal up in the first place. Wave money in the air and plenty of empathy-challenged people will step forward. It is my thesis that the Adaptive Gap will generate more and more empathy-challenged people."
[Not MY running shoes!] The power of money is extraordinary, and it certainly seems to be the case that empathy receeds in the face of personal (perceived) gain. [Helena Norberg-Hodge in her book "Ancient Futures" observes the powerful effect of Western Civ. & Barbie Dolls on the Ladach culture]. Yet what are we to make of the Abolitionists? The Rachael Carlsons? The Ghandi's, Anarchists, religious movements, etc. etc. that inspire transformations of those aspects of environments (fitness landscapes) we find stressful (immoral).
Again, thanks for your posts,
P.S (I'm always influenced by what I read immediately before writing. In this case it is "The Dialectical Biologist by Levins & Lewintin - in which there are observations on how the products or impacts of an organism create new conditions to which those organisms must then respond)