General Replicator Theory


Kevin Aylward B.Sc.




It is explained and held here, that morals are nothing more than codes of conduct that attempt to maximize the replication numbers of Replicators within the constraints of a particular environment.

What is a Moral

A moral is a trait of a Replicator that supports virtual traits, defined and explained in Definitions. It must be a trait of a Replicator because, excluding magic, all thoughts reside in some manner in the physical structure of the brain, and the structure of the brain necessarily forms a Replicator.

It is noted here, that meme traits that have undergone sufficient replication, by the standard results of Replicator theory, can maximize themselves by attempting to maximizing the numbers of its Replicator.


There is so much misunderstanding on what selfishness actually means, so this explanation is to address such an issue.

Definition - Selfishness - absolute selfishness is doing whatever is necessary to maximize a traits numbers interests, irrespective if doing so will also aid another

Absolute selfishness does not mean keeping everything to oneself, as this will often result, on many occasions in a net detriment due to the consequences of such action. The term selfishness automatically includes the notion that helping others can, and does often help oneself with a net advantage to that which would have been achieved by not helping others in the long run. Doing something that results in a net detriment cannot be referred to as absolute selfishness, if another better, i.e. more advantages to it, i.e. more selfish, option was available for that individual.

Again, to emphases, being truly selfish is doing whatever maximizes ones own interests by definition. If this maximization is only achievable by helping others, then that is what will be done. The point being that helping others is not being done for the purposes of helping others, i.e. altruistic, it is only a side effect of absolute selfishness. Anything that truly results in a net determinate, is not truly selfish, and will eventually be weeded out by the Darwinian selection process. It can't be any other way once replicators exist. "What is observed mostly, is that which replicates the most". Its that simple.

Note - the full details of the selfish payback for an apparent altruistic act is also addressed in these papers. It is explained that even apparent no paybacks, do indeed have a payback, when examined in detail. See for example, Psychology.

Definition of a Moral

A moral is defined as a meme trait of a Replicator, such that that trait attempts to maximize a Replicators replication numbers.

The justification for this definition is on the basis of the predictions that such a definition makes. 

The essential reasoning for this is that we know that fixed hardware (gene) traits are very inflexible to adaptation to conditions that change rapidly, for example on a daily basis. However, meme traits can be modified at will. It will be held that these very adaptable meme traits instruct which emotions should be instigated for a particular environmental condition. 

Note that the fact that a particular moral may be a  combination of many traits, does not effect the arguments presented here.


Some "moral" type memes are not considered morals as defined above. That is, they are unable to maximize a physical Replicator, but just Replicate by virtue of the fact that they are memes. These are often referred to as mores. The point of this particular paper is to address memes that have evolved for a human purpose, not general memes of codes of conducts that offer no such useful purpose. This will be expanded in another paper, where mores are defined as  meme trait of a Replicator, such that that trait may be perceived to maximize a Replicators numbers or the numbers of its traits. 

Non language "morals"

Any meme traits that have been programmed by the environment by methods such as touch, pictures and sounds that act to increase the numbers of its Replicator is also defined as a moral.

This paper simply addresses what a moral, as defined above, is. There are no statement or assumptions as to whether such morals identified are right or wrong in any general human morality sense. This question is probably better addressed by philosophy, rather than science.

Support for the Definition of a Moral

It has been shown that Replicators act in whatever way they can to maximize the numbers of their traits, if they are Replicators that have underwent significant generations of replication. It is also held that conscious traits are simply a manifestation of the brains physical structure. As this physical structure is constructed from physical Replicators, if the physics allows it, a Replicator must take advantage of such physical structure. It is therefore held that such Replicators take such advantage by evolving virtual traits in the brain that increase their own Replication numbers.

Comment - moral traits are programmed by the environment.

Morals Are Inherently Selfish

Since, it has been held that morals are nothing more than a trait of a Replicator, it directly follows that morals must be selfish. That is, morals must be so "designed" as to aid the replication numbers of its Replicator. The Replicator in this case, being the genes of a host individual.

The general accepted view that morals are not selfish is misleading. In reality, most morals, when examined critically, are essentially for the benefit of the specific individual, i.e. specific Replicators. In other cases (memes), they are for the benefit of all Replicators in general. That is, morals are memes, and well replicated and selected memes act to maximize the numbers of all Replicators. That is, from the point of view of the moral, it is selfish, but it can achieve this selfishness by being altruistic from the point of view of the Replicator holding that moral. That is, the vehicle may appear altruistic, but its components are selfish.

Many morals are prisoner dilemma based, that is mutual co-operation results in better individual success, therefore these codes often address what is optimum for all individuals, irrespective if the moral may be advantages to the individual if he ignores the moral. It is obviously advantages to preach such that all should follow a rule, but break it oneself. However, the prisoner dilemma scenery includes the notion that defectors will indeed be punished such that it is in the net interests of the individual to cooperate. Even Darwin failed to correctly understand the mechanisms of the prisoner dilemma, such that he attempted a regress to selection of the group for a theory of morals. 

Example Morals

Do Not Murder - recognition that a group of Replicators continually killing any and all other Replicators that they met, would drive that group of Replicators to extinction.

It is clear that indiscriminate killing would drive, essentially, any group to complete extinction, that is it is disadvantages to any replicator not performing the killing.

Help Others - recognition that many replicators mutually aiding each other can replicate themselves faster than a single replicator on its own.

Consider walking home from the pub alone, i.e. a group of 1. Further consider an oncoming group of skin heads with metal toe cap boots. Which group member(s) has the best chances of surviving the encounter? What this author finds amazingly surprising is that there is any debate whatsoever that such cursory apparent altruistic behavior is not in accord with the basic tenet of maximizing individual numbers. Arguable, an attempt to do anything in a society on ones own, without the equivalent of a policemen, is tantamount to suicide. Any group that did develop by mutations, would surely take the resources of such lone individuals such that all of that group members individually benefit by sharing such spoils amongst themselves. 

Specialization - Consider the classic ford production line, buying food from a supermarket, or calling in a plumber, the list is truly endless as to how individuals help others, e.g. pay them, and get something back. Someone skilled in farming is often not a someone skilled in making tools, so co-operation of skill swaps is probably the most natural possible state of affaires for evolution to select for. Society without mutual co-operation could never have evolved to the success it has without the basic recognition that mutual co-operation results in better individual success. We work for a company for what benefit it provides us, not for what benefit the companies or its other members enjoy for themselves. Simply imagine being on your own. What real chances of survival do you think you would have?

Don't Lie - recognition that a lie to any Replicator is disadvantages to any replicator not performing the lie.

Don't Steal - recognition that stealing from any Replicator is disadvantages to any replicator not performing the stealing.

Don't Prostitute - recognition that an F-Replicator that mates indiscriminately is not selecting Replicators based on quality, hence is not selecting to maximize its own numbers.

Be Heterosexual - recognition that F-Replicator and  F-Replicator mating and/or M-Replicator and M-Replicator mating results in a zero rate of replication.

Preserve the Planet - recognition that ignoring the consequences of human actions could lead to all of the all life on earth to extinction.

Have Morals - recognition that one requires to recognize morals.

Good Morals - recognition of the sets of traits that maximize Replicators numbers.

Bad Morals - recognition  of sets of traits that do not maximize Replicators numbers.

Do what parents tell you to do - recognition that your genes and memes are derived from parents. They worked for them since they exist, they should work for you too.

No adultery - recognition that adultery will result in a Replicator expanding resources on another Replicant, not its own.

Special Morals these are general codes of conduct memes and change with the environment.

Marry someone better -  recognition that a better choice in a mate, is a better replication choice.

Don't marry a dropout  -  recognition that a poor choice in a mate, is a poor replication choice.

It is held that morals instruct emotions, as described in emotions.

It is held that language "moral" meme traits originally evolved as described above, as a method of maximizing Replicator numbers, but due to the complexities of applying such morals in a given situation, in conjunction with basic issues of self referral, mutated moral memes are still able to persist in rather obtuse ways.  For example, one very significant aspect is discussed in memes, where it is shown that "self-sacrifice for the greater good" mores can persist indefinitely.

Again, to emphasize, other codes of conduct named "morals", that is mores, that no not satisfy the definition of these papers are discussed elsewhere. These other morals in no way effect the basic conclusions of these papers, they only make some issues more complicated. 

Fundamentally, morals can suffer large mutation rates such that many may currently exist as mores, that don't directly act in a net replication advantage. One only has to pass a spoken message down a chain of individuals to appreciate how fast and extensive morals can be mutated.


The Replicator Theory for human existence shows that there is no such absolute as "right" and "wrong", that is, That which is mostly observed, is that which replicates the most However, practically, there are arguably, issues for humans for:

any trait that would drive the human race to extinction, if allowed to continue unchecked.

Animal Morals

Its is held here that animals also have "morals", as defined above. That is, meme traits that have been programmed by the environment by methods such as learned behavior, touch, pictures and sounds. These environmental "morals" instruct their emotions in the same way as human morals do.

For example, the bells of the ice cream van is usually enough to instruct children to rush out to the street in anticipation, in the same way "walkies" gets the dog off its feet.

That is, an animal  "thinks" in pictures sounds and touch, and can thus recognize meme traits that program its "moral" traits, that instruct its emotion traits. Its obviously well known that animals can be trained by rewards and punishment to engage in desired physical action.

(see emotions for an explanation of how morals effect emotions)

These papers may be freely copied only for non commercial use,

provided full credit is given to the author.

Kevin Aylward 2003 - all rights reserved