January 16, 2005

We need a word!

I talk a lot about "nepotism" -- the tendency to be altruistic toward (or at least cooperative) with relatives. But the flip side of nepotism is the tendency to compete more with relatives than with strangers because your relatives are also most likely to be your rivals for many resources, such as Mom's approval or Grandma's inheritance. Similarly, France and Germany were more likely to go to war with each other despite their kin ties than either was likely to go to war with Tibet because they both wanted Alsace and Lorraine more than they wanted some yak pasturage in Tibet. I usually refer to this as "sibling rivalry writ large" and (I hope) most readers get what I'm talking about, but it would be very helpful to the future of intellectual discourse if we had a generic term for the overall phenomenon of which sibling rivalry is just one example. For example, the terms "nature" and "nurture" are highly convenient for structuring thought, but we don't have a lot of clear thinking about the tradeoffs between nepotism and "sibling rivalry" because we lack a general term for the latter.

So, what are your suggestions for what word should be yang to nepotism's yin?

Steve Sailer's homepage and blog is iSteve.com

No comments: