This is a really interesting point. Could you elaborate some specific
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Eric Hawthorne [mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED]
> Sent: Sunday, February 01, 2004 7:11 PM
> To: [EMAIL PROTECTED]
> Subject: Flaw in denial of "group selection" principle in evolution
> Blast from the recent past.
> This is pertinent to the previous discussions on evolution
> as a special case of emergent-system emergence.
> It was argued that "group selection" effects have been discredited in
> evolutionary biology. I counterargued that denying the possibility of
> a selection effect at each more-and-more complex system-level in
> a multi-layer complex-ordered emergent system (such as ecosystems,
> biological species etc) denies the likelihood of spontaneous emergence of
> those complex systems at all.
> I think I've found the source of the confusion regarding group selection
> effects. It goes like this:
> A species can evolve a "group-benefit" behaviour so long as the
> of the behaviour does not, on average, reduce the reproductive success
> of individuals
> that engage in the group-benefit behaviour, and so long as the behaviour
> confer, on average, a benefit to the reproductive chances of each
> individual in
> the well-behaving group.
> The key is in how we interpret "average". The question is whether an
> organism always acts "in each short-term encounter" in a manner which
> maximizes their
> chance of survival-to-breeding-age IN THAT ENCOUNTER, or whether it is
> for the individual to wager that taking a slight risk now (and
> believing or observing that
> others will also do so) will lead to a better chance that the individual
> will survive ALL
> ENCOUNTERS from now up until it breeds. The organism doesn't have to be
> smart enough
> to believe in this wager. It is sufficient that the wager be on average
> beneficial to the
> individual.In that case, through repeated trials by multiple
> individuals, the behaviour
> which is group-adaptive and individually "lifetime-average" adaptive can
> BECAUSE THE EVOLVABLE "GOAL" IS NOT SIMPLY TO MAXIMIZE THE
> CHANCE OF SURVIVAL OF AN ORGANISM OF THE NEXT SHORT-TERM ENCOUNTER.
> THE "GOAL" IS TO MAXIMIZE THE PROBABILITY OF SURVIVAL OF THE SUM TOTAL
> OF ALL OF THE ORGANISM'S ENCOUNTERS UP TO WHEN THE ORGANISM REPRODUCES.
> So it is just a time-scale misunderstanding. Group-adaptive behaviours
> increase the member's
> probability of surviving to reproductive age, even if they slightly
> increase the chance of the
> indvidual losing some particular encounter.
> True "extreme" altruistic behavior which conveys CERTAINTY of death in a
> single encounter
> may not fit into this model, but it can be argued as to whether the
> altruistic individual "believes"
> they are going to die "for certain" in many incidents or not, or whether
> they hold out "faint hope"
> in which case the argument above could still hold. In any case, true
> "certain death" altruistic behaviour
> is an extreme anomoly case of group-adaptive behviour. Most
> group-adaptive behaviours are
> not of that kind, so "extreme, definitely fatal" altruism is not a good
> model for them.