20 June 2010

Pair bonds, pros and cons. Also free will

Pair bonding is harder than it seems.

So opposites attract. But sameness bonds productively (at least in relation to self-control/efficacy). Doesn't really surprise.

That whole debate was, as usual, interesting. I'm leaning more toward a materialistic/deterministic world where a lot of decisions are kind of fixed or automatic. But it does seem obvious that we have mental processes that can counter-act and pull back from some pure impulsive drive world. Whether that's "free will" or some social response mechanism that comes with having a social part of the human brain, I don't know. I suspect it's something like a decision making engine and it requires a lot of different features to operate it. Like self-control.

The other "odd" feature is the limitations on self-control. Stressing out over one thing tends to drain the battery too much to make sensible decisions in another. Interestingly, those two levers seem connected. Having to make decisions limits our abilities for self-control, and using self-control limits our ability to make decisions.

Crucially, I don't think this means that people shouldn't be accountable for their actions, or that people should necessarily conform to a particular set of actions. What I think it means is that much diversity of mental states, opinions, and even behaviors is built into the species and it becomes necessary to have social institutions and functions that accommodate this buffet of humanity. It doesn't become necessary to sample from it so much as it behooves us to tolerate it on the notion that we are ourselves perhaps only a few misfiring neurons or a few formative memories and experiences away from others.
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