Group Selection

I enter this arena with great trepidation. Here Steven Pinker argues against group selection and in particular takes issue with E. O. Wilson’s evocation of GS to explain several cultural phenomena. I have not read the Wilson material but I take it that both seem to think that there is a fact of the matter to be decided. I think instead that there is an efficacy of metaphor to be evaluated. I believe that the selfish gene is in some sense more accurate and makes better predictions in some areas, but that group selection is, in some real sense, explained by the selfish gene and makes other sorts of predictions with many fewer words. Dissing GS is sort of like saying that you don’t really need thermo dynamics because you could always go down to the molecular level. That is true but a great deal of physics would not happen that way.

A college course is required to derive thermodynamics from Newtonian physics, and also how quantum mechanics doesn’t change anything. I think another course in producing a nuanced version of GS in terms of selfish genes is needed.

Points by Pinker