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March 16, 2003

Group Selection

Just finished the first half of Unto Others by Sober & Wilson, which deals with group selection and evolutionary theory. Very well worth the read (I suspect I'll be a bit slow about finishing the second half which deals with psychology). Reflections after the intellectual digestion finishes, but I must say that the individual selectionism that I was taught as an undergraduate is easier to grasp and theoretically more elegant than the "multilevel selection" paradigm that David Sloan Wilson is championing, so his position will probably need an avalanche of evidence before it is more widely accepted.

Posted by razib at 06:41 PM




but I must say that the individual selectionism that I was taught as an undergraduate is easier to grasp and theoretically more elegant than the "multilevel selection" paradigm that David Sloan Wilson is championing

I was going to start with "Darwin's Cathedral", b/c I liked the premise, but "Unto Others" probably is a better place to start. The way I understand it E.O. Wilson himself supported multi-level selection in 75's "Sociobiology: The New Synthesis", which I think had a section outlining examples of how selection would operate on each tier, beginning with genic. Could be wrong?

Posted by: Jason Malloy at March 16, 2003 08:18 PM


wilson gives the book a blurb-and the impression you get reading Unto Others is that wilson & william hamilton are/were not the individual selectionists that the populizers like dawkins likes to portray them as. the first half of the book is only 190 pages, so it is a quick read, and there's enough equations in there that i could cross-reference with a population genetics book i had and figure out what the differences were. but the more and more i read it, the less and less revolutionary it looks-rather, as the term implies, it is just taking the logic of individual selection to another layer of organization.

darwin's cathedral sounds more interesting-i'll prolly read it at some point when i have more time....

i'll give a general sketch of what if found most compelling about the book after i finish it....

Posted by: razib at March 16, 2003 08:40 PM