Context : UnitsOfSelection

Can group selection explain altruistic behaviours?

Gene-selectionist : no, because selection works faster at the individual level than the group, so we expect selfish mutations to arise within, and kill off, groups faster than the selective pressure between groups can keep selfishness down.

Group selectionist : why do we see altruistic behaviours then?

Gene-selectionist : KinSelection (animals will co-operate with kin who share genes with with them), ReciprocalAltruism (some circumstances afford modelling by the PrisonersDilemma and animals can evolve TitForTat-like strategies to establish co-operative patterns)

Group-selectionist : Very good. But notice that these aren't really alternatives to group-selection. They're actually special cases of it. In one case where the group is close-family; and in the other, the group is the dyadic pair who play the IPD. Plus, we now have other situations where we see apparent altruism where the KinSelection and ReciprocalAltruism models are strained. Much better to revert to general theory of GroupSelection which predicts co-operation in various parts of behaviour-space, and of which kin selection and the conditions for reciprocal altruism are just two (well known) ranges of parameters.

Compare :

Can animals evolve behaviours which solve collective action problems by giving them inate tendencies to co-operate?

See also :

  • EvolutionaryTheory