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where within-group selection (hypothetically) puts individuals at a relative disadvantage, recalling the old group selectionists' emphasis on sacrificing for the group. It is one thing to induce apparently individually-maladaptive behavior in a lab, but not at all clear that such behavior would be individually-maladaptive under ecologically valid conditions. So, these are "equivalent" in some sense, but they are not equally useful for any particular problem. There are many recent publications on social selection. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy, Co-Director, Center for Cognitive Studies, Tufts University; Author, From Bacteria to Bach and Back Steven Pinker sets out the problems with the current enthusiasm for group selection clearly and fairly, except for what are, in my opinion, two regrettable but easily. Let's go straight to what might seem to be the most promising example, a beehive. Natural selection on large scale patterns of cultural variation is plausible because the cultural variation between neighboring groups that might compete is typically much larger than the genetic variation between the same groups (7). Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 2010. Here Pinker relies on models of indirect reciprocity that apply only to pairwise interactions, and depend on a number of dubious assumptions including: (1) a single mutation can shift an individual from defection to a complex reciprocating strategy, (2) individuals have accurate knowledge of past.
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This provides humans with a great advantage by speeding up the adaptive process without expecting individual innovators and innovation adopters to perform cognitive miracles. Nonetheless, this has also been the reading of political realists, who enjoy Thucydides. 5 The same is true for other collectives of genetic relatives in which only a select few reproduce, such as the individuals making up a colonial organism and the cells making up a body. The commentaries following Pinkers essay on cultural evolution are extraordinarily diverse. His emphasis on genes as "replicators" (as they came to be known) is based on the concept of average effects, which is calculated by averaging the fitness of alleles across all individual genotypes and all social and environmental contexts.
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