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 October 2, 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 October 2, 2014).

Share This



More Fossils & Ruins News

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Japan Celebrates 'bullet Train' Anniversary

Raw: Japan Celebrates 'bullet Train' Anniversary

AP (Oct. 1, 2014) A ceremony marking 50 years since Japan launched its Shinkansen bullet train was held on Wednesday in Tokyo. The latest model can travel from Tokyo to Osaka, a distance of 319 miles, in two hours and 25 minutes. (Oct. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Battle of New Orleans Cannon Gets New Carriage

Battle of New Orleans Cannon Gets New Carriage

AP (Sep. 30, 2014) A Spanish cannon used in the Battle of New Orleans and weighing nearly 3 tons was lowered Tuesday by pulleys, chains and muscle onto a new gun carriage like one that might have held it once aboard a navy ship. (Sept. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
2,000 Year Old Pre-Inca Cloak on Display in Lima

2,000 Year Old Pre-Inca Cloak on Display in Lima

AFP (Sep. 27, 2014) A 2,000 year-old Pre-Inca cloak that is believed to represent an agricultural calendar of the Paracas culture is on display in Lima. Duration: 00:39 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Original Mozart Sonata Manuscript Found in Budapest

Original Mozart Sonata Manuscript Found in Budapest

AFP (Sep. 26, 2014) Considered lost for over two centuries, the original manuscript of one of the most famous works of Mozart's Sonata in A major has been uncovered in a library in Budapest. Duration: 01:04 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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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