Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Quick thoughts on polyamory

Evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller wrote a piece for Quillette that sees polyamory becoming a mainstream part of modern society.

Assuming that he is right that openness to polyamory is growing, I suspect this is part of a larger trend toward greater cultural libertarianism: pursue your desires as long as you don't aggress against others. It's another step in the move away from institutions and roles and toward contracts. It's the view that there there is no proper way but your way (as long as you don't harm anyone).

I'm surprised that Miller doesn't see this trend as getting close to as a society that is purely a reflection of biology.  Many traditional institutions seem to be designed to check human nature. "I want all attractive women." "Sorry, you get one." "My old wife isn't sexy anymore. I want to trade in her in for a younger model." "Sorry, you get one, for good."

What does a cultural libertarian society look like?  What does nature look like? Miller should know. Women are picky and want a high-status partner who reliably gives his abundant resources to her. Those men are in short supply. Men want many partners but so do other men, and they find themselves in a competitive situation with limited resources. High mate value men tend to win by getting the most attractive women, and getting the most women. Low mate value men tend to get a partner by devoting resources only to her, but some of these men get no one.

Isn't this what we'll get if polyamory grows? There will be no institutional constraints on alphas. They will focus on being players, and many women will respond to their attention. Men of low mate value will have a harder time winning over a partner, and their offer of monogamy will be worth less in a society that does not value it. Like the alphas, they will long more strongly for multiple partners since there are no dominant institutions telling them monogamy is the right way, but many of them will get no women, forget about many. A large population of young men with no access to partners is not good for the stability of society.

Evolutionary biology teaches that humans tend to follow one of two strategies: high mating effort or high parenting effort. One tends to happen at the expense of the other. Under polyamory, interest will be shifted toward pursuing mates. Parental effort will suffer. That means fewer children--as if we don't already have a problem replacing ourselves--and the care given to children will be of lower quality.

It looks like such a system would select in evolutionary terms for dominant and slick men rather than solid, steady men. Society benefits from more steady men and fewer con artists.

More promiscuity leads to more jealousy which is a major cause of homicide. The US already has the highest rate of homicide among wealthy countries.

From what I can see, we need more monogamy, not less.

UPDATE: This pro-polyamory position taken by Miller seems to be another case of privileged people advocating lifestyles that can work for them but that wreak havoc on vulnerable populations. I suspect that people like Hugh Hefner bear some responsibility for present-day Black America.

1 comment:

  1. Black America did not need Hefner to show the way. It comes naturally to them.


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