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By Colin Grant

Separated from its anchorage in faith, ethics has the social sciences in seeing people as essentially characterised by way of self-interest, in order that altruism is both naively idealistic or arrogantly self-sufficient. Colin furnish contends that, as a latest secular suggestion, altruism is a parody at the self-giving love of Christianity, in order that its dismissal represents a social leveling that loses the depths that theology makes intelligible and faith makes attainable. He argues that to dispense with altruism is to dispense with God and with the divine transformation of human probabilities.

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Explanations for altruism 27 In spite of the apparently total about-face represented by this assurance that ``we are built as gene machines and nurtured as meme machines, but we have the power to turn against our creators,''63 this does not necessarily mean a complete repudiation of the detailed delineation of genetic strategies. It can rather entail drawing on the knowledge of these strategies as the means for the rebellion against them. ''64 Then rather than a direct repudiation of the sel®sh gene reading of life, the promotion of an unprecedented altruism requires precisely this knowledge of the endemic selfishness at the heart of nature as a measure of the odds against which any prospect for genuine altruism must contend.

The result can only serve to discourage any prospects for altruism that people might entertain. ''73 Thus far from the neutral air that sociobiology professes to represent, the reality is that not only does it draw on a particular cultural era for its primary inspiration, but it further enforces that vision through this very aura of neutrality that it enjoys as science. The point of this conclusion is not to reject the scienti®c ideal of factuality. Indeed this critique of sociobiology presupposes that ideal.

Sahlins, The Use and Abuse of Biology, p. 72. Murray Bookchin, ``Ecology, Society and the Myth of Biological Determinism,'' in Biology as a Social Weapon, ed. Ann Arbor Science for the People Editorial Collective, p. 124. 50 The result is that this climate provided the perspective from which Darwin viewed nature. ''51 Thus the origins and development of Darwinism are the reverse of what they are generally taken to be. 53 This assumed background becomes even more speci®ed, however, when account is taken of the signi®cance of Adam Smith, the patriarch of modern free-market economics, for Darwin.

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