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Showing 1-3 of 3 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 13 reviews
on July 15, 2014
I had been skeptical of group selection for a number of reasons, though I always respected DS wilson and E Sobers tireless efforts to maintain the argument. I was even critical of the evolution of Myxoma virulence as a case study of group selection. However, After having spent the last 7 months reexamining the idea, I am now quite comfortable with it and appreciate Wilson and Sober for continuing to maintain a precise, informed, and very disciplined discourse about this idea that elicits far more gut-level antagonism than it deserves.
Of all the materials that I examined (books and journal articles) This book represents the best treatment of the history and underlying ideas while also pointing out some of the reasons for us to give a hoot; namely, that group selection and individual selection together provide reasonable explanations for alot of the phenomena that occur in human societies. They title it unto others, I would call it us and them.
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on April 14, 2005
Is there empirical, biological, and evolutionary justification that mankind acts with unselfish behavior? The authors approach the subject of human altruism and the biological advantages of multilevel (group) selection vis-a-vis human egoism, hedonism, anti-functionalism, and individual functionalism from an interdisciplinary, but primarily evolutionary, approach.

The first half of the book deals with biology, genetics, and anthropology that provide the empirical grounds and logical inferences for believing that multi-level functionalism (groups and stratification) as opposed to individual-only and anti-functionalism evolved through natural selection by rewarding the fittest group selection, social norms, group adaptation, and cultural evolution, just as it rewards the fittest individual. Ergo, just as natural selection favors the fittest individuals, so it favors those individuals who cooperate in the traits of the fittest groups that survive over many generations.

The second section of the book takes the multi-level functionalism and altruism of the first half and evaluates arguments for and against it from psychological, motivational, and philosophical perspectives. While largely armchair speculation (due to lack of empirical studies confined to products of evolution rather than the actual process of evolution), the authors conclude again that natural selection again favors the fittest group, multi-level functionalism, and altruism over egoism, hedonism, selfishness, and individual selection only.

The authors' evidence and arguments are elegant, persuasive, and rigorous, but as the authors admit, much of the arguments are speculative, as no large scale studies have been done to prove or disprove their theses, because the whole subject had been largely abandoned for decades. Still, the cogent and coherent arguments make a convincing case for the rehabilitation of group-altruistic natural selection that is every bit as effectual as individual-selfish natural selection, just as Darwin presciently observed in the "Descent of Man." The conclusion is that mankind is naturally disposed by evolution to work altruistically in groups and that certain groups adapt to their environment better than others increases the significance of natural selection of the group as well as the individual. What the authors prove is that we can no longer ignore group dynamics in the evolutionary process. Altruism benefits both the individual and the group in natural selection. Highly recommended.
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on December 8, 2013
Such a great book with incredible scientific and philosophical insights to the human condition and evolutionary process. Society evolves just as biology does (if not more so). A must read for anyone interested in learning as to why evolutionary theory DOESN'T encourage Social Darwinism.
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