Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Group Selection, A Theory Whose Time Has Come ... Again

Date:
November 29, 2007
Source:
University of Chicago Press Journals
Summary:
Sociobiology, the discipline founded on Darwin's theory of group evolution, is in theoretical disarray. In a new article evolutionary scientists usher in a new era in evolutionary science.

"Although a high standard of morality gives but a slight or no advantage to each individual man and his children over the other men of the same tribe...an advancement in the standard of morality will certainly give an immense advantage to one tribe over another."

With these words, Charles Darwin proposed an evolutionary explanation for morality and pro-social behaviors-- individuals behaving for the good of their group, often at their own expense--that anticipated the future discipline of Sociobiology. A century after this famous passage was published in The Descent of Man (1871), however, Darwin's explanation based on group selection had become taboo and has not recovered since.

Evolutionary scientists David Sloan Wilson and Edward O. Wilson -- whose book Sociobiology:The New Synthesis brought widespread attention to the field in 1975 -- call for an end to forty years of confusion and divergent theories. They propose a new consensus and theoretical foundation that affirms Darwin's original conjecture and is supported by the latest biological findings.

Wilson and Wilson trace much of the confusion in the field to the 1960's, when most evolutionists rejected "for the good of the group" thinking and insisted that all adaptations must be explained in terms of individual self-interest. In an even more reductionistic move, genes were called "the fundamental unit of selection," as if this was an argument against group selection.

Scientific dogma became entrenched in popular culture with the publication of Richard Dawkins' The Selfish Gene (1976). Although evidence in favor of group selection began accumulating almost immediately after its rejection, its taboo status prevented a systematic re-evaluation of the field until now.

Based on current theory and evidence, Wilson and Wilson show that natural selection is unequivocally a multilevel process, as Darwin originally envisioned, and that adaptations can evolve at all levels of the biological hierarchy, from genes to ecosystems.

They conclude with a rallying cry that paraphrases Rabbi Hillel: "Selfishness beats altruism within groups. Altruistic groups beat selfish groups. Everything else is commentary," Wilson and Wilson free sociobiology to once again pursue all lines of inquiry within its discipline.

Journal reference: Wilson, David Sloan and Edward O.Wilson. "Rethinking the Theoretical Foundation of Sociobiology," The Quarterly Review of Biology: December 2007.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Chicago Press Journals. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Chicago Press Journals. "Group Selection, A Theory Whose Time Has Come ... Again." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 November 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071128151814.htm>.
University of Chicago Press Journals. (2007, November 29). Group Selection, A Theory Whose Time Has Come ... Again. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071128151814.htm
University of Chicago Press Journals. "Group Selection, A Theory Whose Time Has Come ... Again." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071128151814.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

Share This



More Fossils & Ruins News

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Mich. Boy Unearths 10,000-Year-Old Mastodon Tooth

Mich. Boy Unearths 10,000-Year-Old Mastodon Tooth

Newsy (Apr. 20, 2014) — A 9-year-old Michigan boy was exploring a creek when he came across a 10,000-year-old tooth from a prehistoric mastodon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Couple Finds Love Letters From WWI In Attic

Couple Finds Love Letters From WWI In Attic

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) — A couple found love letters from World War I in their attic. They were able to deliver them to relatives of the writer of those letters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Erotic Art Offers Glimpse of China's 'lost' Sexual Philosophy

Erotic Art Offers Glimpse of China's 'lost' Sexual Philosophy

AFP (Apr. 16, 2014) — Explicit Chinese art works dating back centuries go on display in Hong Kong, revealing China's ancient relationship with sex. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
French Historians Fight to Save Iconic La Samaritaine Buildings

French Historians Fight to Save Iconic La Samaritaine Buildings

AFP (Apr. 15, 2014) — Parisians and local historians are fighting to save one of the French capital's iconic buildings, the La Samaritaine department store. Duration: 01:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:  

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile iPhone Android Web
    Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins