January 9, 2008

DUELLING JUST SO STORIES:

Evolutionists at war over altruism's origins (Steve Connor, 10 January 2008, Independent)

An intellectual war of words has broken out between two of the world's leading evolutionists. Oxford University's Richard Dawkins and Harvard's Edward Wilson have gone head to head over the evolution of altruism in the animal kingdom, and whether it can have come about as a result of something called group selection.

The subject matter of their dispute is social insects, particularly ants, which display a supreme form of altruism in that sterile workers lay down their lives for the benefit of their fertile colleagues in the colony.

Conventional Darwinian theory could not really explain why one individual should sacrifice its own life, and its precious genes, for the benefit of another individual, unless it could be viewed in terms of group selection, when individuals do it for the benefit of the colony or the species.

But nearly half a century ago, scientists punched intellectual holes in the theory of group selection and pointed instead to something called kin selection, when altruism in social communities evolves as a result of one individual being closely related to a member of the same colony.


Neither of which explain it either, not tell us how many genes fit on the head of a pin?

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 9, 2008 8:53 PM
Comments

Ditto. I'm sure this is fun to argue about, but I'd like to see how Dawkins and Wilson respond to one simple question: How is this proveable, even in principle? Bring the popcorn.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at January 12, 2008 2:56 AM
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