Mike Huemer just published his version of the familiar argument that changing moral views is evidence for moral realism. Here is the progress datum he seeks to explain: Mainstream illiberal views of earlier centuries are shocking and absurd to modern readers. The trend is consistent across many issues: war, murder, slavery, democracy, women’s suffrage, racial segregation, torture, execution, colonization. It is difficult to think of any issue on which attitudes have moved in the other direction. This trend has been ongoing for millennia, accelerating in the last two centuries, and even the last 50 years, and it affects virtually every country on Earth. … All the changes are consistent with a certain coherent ethical standpoint. Furthermore, the change has been proceeding in the same direction for centuries, and the changes have affected nearly all societies across the globe. This is not a random walk.
So is formaldehyde. Lenin's body is well-conservated.
"The worst moral inversion of all: most people can't even imagine that things might be otherwise." Oh, we know they can be otherwise: serfdom, racial segregation, slavery, book fires, colonial empires, wars of conquest, torture, inquisitions, religious wars (Catholics vs Protestants), blood libel, the Index Librorum Prohibitorum. Maybe we are just being luck for now.
"Immorality" such as democracy, universal suffrage, abolishing colonial empires, banning slavery, drastically curtailing torture and avoiding wars of conquest.
In many cases "immorality" (as in "it's immoral because a book written by a bunch of violent tribal bronze age sheepherders says it's immoral") actually makes economic and strategic sense.
Societies become more liberal because victorious movements are reclassified as liberal.
Jackson's racism was a left-wing movement.
Lincoln's anti-racism was a left-wing movement.
Wilson's racism was a left-wing movement.
Truman's anti-racism was a left-wing movement.
... and we have always been at war with Eurasia.
It already has.
Why hasn't evolutionary pressure produced a "less liberal" perspective on contraception?
The trend towards leftism is best explained by the fact that the universe tends towards entropy. In the big picture, as in life, entropy is a bad thing.
Interestingly, conservatism is a force against entropy.
"And still societies as a whole become more liberal"
Thats what entropy is - a gradual decline into disorder.
The trend towards leftism is explained by the fact that leftism tends to increase the influence of an individual and their personal utility, and so more influential people spread more leftist ideas in turn etc... See Soviet Russia
I don't know where you get the idea that this is moral progress. Telling people what they want to hear tends to increase the influence of an individual but that is in fact often less moral than telling the truth about the matter.
Morality that creates bubbles of cooperation that are eventually exploited by defectors is an inferior morality compared to the morality that protects itself from parasites to preserve cooperation.
Scientific ideas can be tested and falsehoods eliminated. Clearly modern moral beliefs are being put up to a selection process but its not clear that what they are selecting for is conducive to long term welfare.
wikipedia has a pretty thorough treatment of nutrition and the Flynn Effect - https://en.wikipedia.org/wi...
However, an authoritative article dismisses nutrition: http://www.apa.org/pubs/jou...
[Notice that Flynn is co-author.]
This literature review maintains nutrition can't explain the Flynn Effect because the patterns of gains don't match any nutritional hypothesis: sometimes occurring in the lower end of the distribution and sometimes in the higher (in different countries). That this is their main reason for rejecting nutrition doesn't seem to me a strong position, since various micro-nutrients can be involved. (Iodine has been found unexpectedly important to intellectual development.)
The early proponent of nutrition was Richard Lynn, a somewhat notorious racialist - although the integrity of his research hasn't been impugned. But this might impede acceptance. (It did with me - not that I'm by any means certain.)
"They say that if you are not a socialist as a teenager, you have no heart but if you are still a socialist in middle age, you have no brain. Indeed, as we age, there is an empirically observed progression in moral views, away from attitudes commonly termed "liberal", and towards "conservative" ones."
But this is commonly explained as moving from a state where you mostly have things to gain to a state where you mostly have things to lose, not as an increase in intelligence. The transition occurs when people get children, large financial obligations and lots of material possessions, regardless of their age. Interestingly the very old can (I've seen this a couple of times) swing back to more liberal views after they've paid off their debts, know their kids are doing alright and in general know they don't have to take anyone's BS anymore when they're secure and long since retired.
"It's also curious (and to me surprising) that twin studies find left-right ideology to be almost entirely inherited."
And still societies as a whole become more liberal. Almost no one today wishes for the return of slavery, even though if you had done a twin study in the 1850s you would have found support for slavery to seem like an inherited trait. What is genetically inherited is a penchant for fearing change and for fear in general, this leads people to choose the conservative side of an argument when given the choice, I don't know whether this genetic predisposition has become more common since the stone age, it's not impossible, I suppose. What exactly constitutes the conservative side changes over time, may even reverse as things that were once hallmarks of progressivism become entrenched traditions. By definition, the liberal (or more accurately: "progressive") side has to change over time as well and at some point in the future farmer values may actually be considered "liberal" because they would be a change with respect to the established values of the day.
So yes, forager values will not exactly map to what is considered "liberalism" in every time period and in every place, but forager values do map pretty well to the broad strokes of modern liberalism that Huemer mentioned.
A great deal of confusion is added by the term liberal having become a placeholder for "progressive" in the United States. Essentially, forager values map well onto the European definition of liberalism. This reminds me of those experiments where chimpanzees would not accept food if another friendly chimpanzee didn't get food as well.
They say that if you are not a socialist as a teenager, you have no heart but if you are still a socialist in middle age, you have no brain. Indeed, as we age, there is an empirically observed progression in moral views, away from attitudes commonly termed "liberal", and towards "conservative" ones. Empirically, intelligence is anti-correlated with liberalism in the US, in the common 21st political group meaning. We have thus two data points indicating that liberalism is associated with lack of moral reflection or lack of intelligence.
I am not quite sure what the term of art "liberal" means in this discussion (again, regrettably, I do not have access to the full text of your article) but I have the impression it may have many odious connotations to commenters here, as it nowadays commonly refers to radically intolerant, reactionary and socially corrosive attitudes. You may want to clarify this term for our benefit.
We STILL are quite non-forager-like at work. Naturally there will be some limit to how forager-like we can become while still maintaining an advanced technological base, but I really doubt we've reached that limit already and I know for a fact American society hasn't reached it yet because Western Europe is more forager-like and is still standing.
"Foragers are often quite hostile and suspicious of outgroups, for example. That doesn't sound very liberal to me."
Foragers have limited knowledge about outgroups, but do know those outgroups are likely to have farmer values and have more advanced weapons. Their suspicion is hardly a sign of some irrational xenophopbia. Likewise, you don't cease to be a liberal when you fear invasion by an outgroup with hostile values and superior military strength (case in point, the liberal Hong Kong protester's fear of mainland China).
Would such a model depend on the agent anticipating and attempting to compensate for the possibility of future biases as yet unknown? Without this mechanism, I'm unable to imagine why a random walk might occur.