The Naked Scientists

The Naked Scientists Forum

Author Topic: Genetic Monogamy?  (Read 14206 times)

Offline Titanscape

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 785
    • View Profile
Genetic Monogamy?
« on: 23/10/2005 13:19:10 »
Are humans really a monogomous species, or is this a cultural ideal?

Titanscape


 

another_someone

  • Guest
Re: Genetic Monogamy?
« Reply #1 on: 24/10/2005 02:35:06 »
Self evidently, there are many cultures (some present, mostly historic) that were Self evidently, there are many cultures (some present, mostly historic) that were polygamous, and some that were polyandrous.

There is to some extent also the question about how you would judge monogamy and polygamy - are you talking about conditions of marriage, which are a legal issue; or are you talking about mating practices (and we know that even amongst many of those who remain married, they may not necessarily be faithful to one partner).

Many of the issues regarding polygamy and polyandry are often related to the distribution of genders in the population.  In a population where many of the menfolk are killed off in large number (e.g. in warfare), it makes sense to allow a man to marry more than one woman.  In other cultures where there is a shortage of women, there is a sensible argument for polyandry.

In other cases, polygamy is simply a reflection of a highly stratified society, where polygamy is only practised by a very few, the elite, within the society.
 

Offline Titanscape

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 785
    • View Profile
Re: Genetic Monogamy?
« Reply #2 on: 24/10/2005 12:45:01 »
Taking a glance at ancient Greece and modern Greece. Christian culture and the hard wiring of man and questioning if it is uniform. Perhaps Greece took up monogamy because of inate perceptions of true order, justice and honour...  

Monogamy meaning that a man chooses one wife either in a faith or in open commitment, open declaration before families even in athiests.

There is also serial monogamy.

Are we a monogomous... species or is it a matter of inspiriation. Or is polygamy against the conscience and chaotic essentially in all cases?

Titanscape
« Last Edit: 24/10/2005 12:45:53 by Titanscape »
 

another_someone

  • Guest
Re: Genetic Monogamy?
« Reply #3 on: 24/10/2005 16:00:59 »
quote:
Originally posted by Titanscape

Taking a glance at ancient Greece and modern Greece. Christian culture and the hard wiring of man and questioning if it is uniform. Perhaps Greece took up monogamy because of inate perceptions of true order, justice and honour...  

Monogamy meaning that a man chooses one wife either in a faith or in open commitment, open declaration before families even in athiests.

There is also serial monogamy.

Are we a monogomous... species or is it a matter of inspiriation. Or is polygamy against the conscience and chaotic essentially in all cases?

Titanscape



As I said before, one has to be clear about whether you are talking about sexual monogamy or marital monogamy.

There can be order in polygamy as well as monogamy.  It depends upon the nature of the order you are looking for.

The wikipedia entry for polygamy is quite interesting http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polygamy, and does make a glancing reference to the distinctions between marital polygamy and sexual polygamy:

quote:

Similarly, within societies which formally prohibit polygamy, social opinion may look favorably on persons maintaining mistresses or engaging in serial monogamy.


quote:

Secular law in most western countries with large Jewish and Christian populations does not recognise polygamous marriages. However, few such countries have any laws against living a polygamous lifestyle: they simply refuse to give it any official recognition. Parts of the United States, however, criminalise even the polygamous lifestyle, which is unusual; these laws originated as anti-Mormon legislation, although they are rarely enforced.



In Europe, marriage was traditionally a contract entered into by two families, not merely by the parties being married.  As such, it is clear that neither family would want their part of the contract being diluted by the inclusion of further marriage partners.  This would not create restrictions upon having multiple sexual partners, so long as there are no contractual obligations arising from those extra-marital relationships.

 

Offline Titanscape

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 785
    • View Profile
Re: Genetic Monogamy?
« Reply #4 on: 26/10/2005 03:21:38 »
Some creatures pair up for life and take the sex cells of only the other and mate with but the one it paired up with. I for one and some others hold having one sex partner and one only, in marriage too, as ideal. It is an ideal, but perhaps not all think so. It is considered order as 'Another Someone' wrote, from Christian idealism.

Is the ideal, hard wired, or is it just philosophicaly inspired?

Titanscape
 

another_someone

  • Guest
Re: Genetic Monogamy?
« Reply #5 on: 26/10/2005 05:36:35 »
quote:
Originally posted by Titanscape

Some creatures pair up for life and take the sex cells of only the other and mate with but the one it paired up with. I for one and some others hold having one sex partner and one only, in marriage too, as ideal. It is an ideal, but perhaps not all think so. It is considered order as 'Another Someone' wrote, from Christian idealism.

Is the ideal, hard wired, or is it just philosophicaly inspired?

Titanscape



I don't think either is quite accurately the case.

Firstly, there are very few species that are truly monogamous (maybe even no species - it is difficult to be certain whether even apparently monogamous relationships are truly monogamous, and it has been shown that even in cases where a male and female appear to be mated exclusively, that in many cases the offspring of the female include a small number not fathered by her nominal mate).

On the other hand, it is clear that some people (and probably some animals) on an individual level do more naturally form monogamous relationships.  I don't think this is simply a matter of indoctrination with a particular philosophy.

This would indicate to me that there is not a simple genetic preprogramming within the species, although there may be genes within the population that make this more or less likely, and those genes may vary in distribution depending upon the selection pressures applied to the population.

I would be interested to find if there any twin studies, or other familial studies, that showed whether a tendency to infidelity was an inheritable trait (although I stress that this refers to tendencies, not preprogrammed outcomes).  I would expect that it would show an inheritable tendency determining a predisposition with regard to polygamy.  What would be even more interesting, and which I have no expectation as to the outcome, would be to determine if any familial predisposition to polygyny is linked to a predisposition to polyandry, or if they are controlled independently.
 

Offline Solvay_1927

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 383
    • View Profile
Re: Genetic Monogamy?
« Reply #6 on: 27/10/2005 22:33:43 »
Interesting topic.

As for twin studies, I've just done a quick search and found this newspaper article:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,1363375,00.html

I think the article has interesting things to say about the meaningfulness and value of such research.


"Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines."
 

another_someone

  • Guest
Re: Genetic Monogamy?
« Reply #7 on: 28/10/2005 04:47:15 »
quote:
Originally posted by Solvay_1927

Interesting topic.

As for twin studies, I've just done a quick search and found this newspaper article:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,1363375,00.html

I think the article has interesting things to say about the meaningfulness and value of such research.


"Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines."



It seems to say more about the nature of the press, and to some extent, the limitations of the funding of science, but does not per se discredit twin studies as such.

I think there is a great problem with much social study in that much of it is based upon questionnaires that are uncritically collected from participants.  These I think should indeed be taken with a pinch of salt.

What would be more meaningful is paternity testing (i.e. whether some families show a greater number of children born to fathers other than the person on their birth certificate), since this is objective rather than subjective.  This could show whether female infidelity was inherit, but it may be more difficult to show whether male infidelity is inherit, since it is less easy to trace the children of fathers who are unfaithful to their wives.

The reason I would believe that infidelity might be genetic in basis is because I would imagine there are certain environments where this might provide a selective advantage, and certain environments where I would expect it to provide a disadvantage, and so I would expect that we would be programmed for both eventualities.

You might argue that it would be sufficient that the DNA merely allow us to make a choice as to how to react to an environment, but this would only be a scenario that would work with higher organisms that have sophisticated brain function, and I would imagine that these choices have to be made by species that do not have our level of brain function.  Thus it would be logical to believe that the choice is made at a genetic level.  If the choice is genetic, then it would be logical to believe that some families would express more of that gene (or, more likely, those genes) than other families.
 

Offline Titanscape

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 785
    • View Profile
Re: Genetic Monogamy?
« Reply #8 on: 28/10/2005 08:29:14 »
It could be simple, perhaps some women have more clitoris and grey matter in the parts connected to the clitoris nerves... putting more pressure on them. Such as a five inch clitoris over a one inch.

Titanscape
 

another_someone

  • Guest
Re: Genetic Monogamy?
« Reply #9 on: 28/10/2005 13:20:02 »
quote:
Originally posted by Titanscape

It could be simple, perhaps some women have more clitoris and grey matter in the parts connected to the clitoris nerves... putting more pressure on them. Such as a five inch clitoris over a one inch.

Titanscape



What you are asking relates to the physiological process, it does not answer how that physiological process came about.

Not sure I would agree with your mechanism (it might suggest a woman is motivated to desire more sex, but not necessarily more sexual partners), but even if, as a possible example, I were to accept it, the question would still remain why would there be such differences in size of clitoris, or in the wiring of her brain?  Would such differences be inheritable, or are they merely a consequence of her eating more of one type of food and less of another type of food as a child?  I still believe that a genetic basis for such differences in behaviour (or, more accurately, a genetic basis that predisposes one to particular behavioural traits) is the most probable, but I agree that one still then has to convert that genetic predisposition into actual physiological processes.
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

Re: Genetic Monogamy?
« Reply #9 on: 28/10/2005 13:20:02 »

 

SMF 2.0.10 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines
SMFAds for Free Forums