Human evolutionary significance of goodness
I would say that one can sum up goodness and badness using the honesty versus dishonesty criterion. Accordingly, liars, deceivers, truth suppressors are bad since they try to cover up all their selfish and criminal activities by being dishonest. Good people have nothing to hide are therefore truthful, and open.
Lying means hiding something that is true by giving the wrong information hence giving the wrong impression about a situation so that justice is thwarted. No matter what the situation society suffers adversely, so it reflects badness of character.
For want of a better word, let us use 'fittestism' describes social traits in terms of a motivational strategy for exploitation of resources to aid physical survival. It must have a gene in the same way that there is an altruism gene, the two operating in a balanced way to make the species flourish. There are individuals like Bill Gates who exhibit both aspects and this does not negate the theory of the two independent genes each being able to reach a high level of expression in the same individual. To be dlear fittestism is not associated with the term 'Survival of the Fittest' in evolutionary biology. I described human society to be composed of a spectrum of motivational strategies between the extremes of those who practice 'fittestism' through selfishness and sociopathic behaviour and those that practice 'altruism' for social development of live and let live that is reliant on the individuals sacrificing for in terms of caring for others. Altruism does not reach the position of sacrificing to the point of dying in the act. Dishonest people (sociopaths and psycopaths are the extremely self-centred ones) belong to the former category and at the extreme are unable to practice altruism because their actions generate bad effects with everything is interconnected:
Part of humanity lives according to the principle of exploiting their bodies and the environment to the best possible outcome in terms of material gains (wealth, fame, legacy) then we have the idea of fittestism. Altruism is the opposite strategy for living. The question that arose was could they both be examples of fitness to the same environment? Is not one likely to predominate as being the greater (more successful) survival strategy? Indeed Fittestism and Altruism are both strategies of fitness.
Beatsong: writes at Rational Skepticism: Yes of course they can. Nature is full of examples of organisms having various capacities which can contradict each other, but which have all evolved via natural selection. In fact everything comes down to this really. A lion that can run faster is more likely to catch its prey. A lion that is bigger is more likely to be able to kill its prey once it's caught. But a lion the size of a whale is not going to be able to run as fast. So the advantages of both of these characteristics enter into the evolution of lions and you end up with a broadly optimum compromise between speed and size. Just as you do between the peacock's need to run around and the size of it's tail. Or between a human's (or a lion's, or any other mammal, for that matter) capacity for self-advancement within the social group and capacity for sacrifice for the social group.
As CDM pointed out: Species don not exhibit altruistic behavior because they just happen to be nice individuals. They exhibit it because it gives the genes of their local gene pool a better chance at survival, including the genes that contribute to the altruistic behavior. It increases the fitness of the group. So altruistic behavior is a gene acting selfishly’’.
Fittestism and Altruism can both be examples of fitness in the same environment and even the same species. Altruism benefits the gene pool and more directly benefits the altruistic genes that exhibit the behavior as those around you typically share the same genes. If you sacrifice for their benefit you increase the reproductive health of the rest of the group and thus continue to pass on the genes.
This doesn't mean that others in your same gene pool can exhibit the hording of wealth, power and respect to attract mates. A species can have both genes but expressed in varying degrees and different ways from individual to individual.
Both strategies are expressed in wolf packs, chimpanzee troops or any socially advanced species including humans. There are always the power grabbers and there are always the altruistic non reproductive followers that play the support roles. The group benefits from both.
The motivation and drive that compels those who proceed with their endeavours to succeed in their chosen careers and fields of work requires a gene or a gene-system (multiple genes?) because we know that this 'capacity' is absent in vast numbers of people, would you not agree? Or do you think that it can be conditioned in the person through the correct upbringing or education?
Cd desingpropentist: Rarely does a single gene exhibit a single expression, especially when it comes to complex expressions like social behavior. We are probably talking about a complement of genes.
As far as specifics on how the two expressions relate in a single individual, I don't have a clue. I would imagine the waters are also muddied quite a bit with the nature vs nurture problem.
Having said that, there is indication of there being a particular gene responsible for sociopathic behavior. The MAO-A gene which has also been called the 'Warrior gene'. Again, it is probably not the only gene involved in greedy power driven behavior but has a strong influence. I would imagine it is strongly selected for, for the fact that a sociopath is also a player and has a much higher reproductive success.
I would also imagine a social group with all sociopaths is not as fit as a group with a mixture of sociopaths and altruists. So both are probably required for overall fitness of the group of any socially advanced species.