<!DOCTYPE html><HTML lang="en"> <head> <meta charset="utf-8"> <link href="../../TheosStyle.css" rel="stylesheet" type="text/css"><link rel="shortcut icon" href="../../TT_ICO.png" /> <title>Note: Blog - Darwinian Altruism (Theo Todman's Web Page)</title> </head><body> <a name="Top"></a> <h1>Theo Todman's Web Page - Notes Pages</h1><hr><h2>Blog</h2><h3>Darwinian Altruism</h3><p class = "Centered">(Text as at 19/08/2007 14:09:36)<br><br>(For earlier versions of this Note, <a href="#TableOfPreviousVersions">see the table at the end</a>)</p><hr> <P><FONT COLOR = "0000FF"><B>If I am an animal that has evolved through random mutations and Darwinian selection, what benefit is there to me from committing random acts of kindness?</B><BR><BR>I m not sure what your question is really asking. There s no necessary connection between the origins of a trait and its current use. Presumably the skills we have that enable us to solve abstract mathematical puzzles (or financial ones) evolved for other reasons, but that doesn t present a paradox (though Plato got into a muddle about how we know mathematical truths, and thought we recollect them from a previous disembodied existence when we were in direct contact with them). Similarly, the fact that we ve evolved from ape-like ancestors doesn t mean we ought to carry on acting like them. After all, we don t live like hunter-gatherers any more. <BR><BR>But evolutionary theory can at least attempt a solution. Basically, evolution will favour any gene that enables its possessor to survive and reproduce. There are at least two possibilities. <ol type="1"><li>One is <B>Group Selection</B>: groups of social animals that co-operate with one another and help one another out are more likely to flourish than those that don t. But there s a worry that in the case of fatal altruism, how would the altruistic gene be passed on? So, </li><li>There is <B>Kin Selection</B>: you share genes with your relatives, so even if you perish saving one of them, your genes are passed on. </li></ol>None of this is any use if the altruistic-gene is novel-to-you, but genes  sleep for generations before their usefulness arises, or something like that. <BR><BR>Kin Selection is also wheeled out to explain the evolutionary origin of homosexuality. <BR> <BR>There has been a lot written on this subject recently. An excellent book on the topic of the evolution of altruism (though one I ve not finished reading) is <a name="4"></a>"<A HREF = "../../BookSummaries/BookSummary_00/BookPaperAbstracts/BookPaperAbstracts_257.htm">Sober (Elliott) & Wilson (David) - Unto Others - The Evolution & Psychology of Unselfish Behaviour</A>". The classic text on evolutionary psychology generally is <a name="5"></a>"<A HREF = "../../BookSummaries/BookSummary_00/BookPaperAbstracts/BookPaperAbstracts_166.htm">Barkow (Jerome), Cosmides (Leda) & Tooby (John), Eds. - The Adapted Mind: Evolutionary Psychology and the Generation of Culture</A>". A less demanding text is <a name="6"></a>"<A HREF = "../../BookSummaries/BookSummary_00/BookPaperAbstracts/BookPaperAbstracts_263.htm">Sterelny (Kim) & Griffiths (Paul) - Sex and Death - An Introduction to Philosophy of Biology</A>".<BR><BR>See also the <a name="1"></a><A HREF = "../Notes_5/Notes_528.htm">three</A><SUP>1</SUP>,<a name="2"></a><A HREF = "../Notes_5/Notes_529.htm"><SUP>2</SUP></A>,<a name="3"></a><A HREF = "../Notes_5/Notes_550.htm"><SUP>3</SUP></A> following remarks.</P> <a name="TableOfPreviousVersions"></a><BR><HR><h3 class= "Left">Table of the Previous 3 Versions of this Note:</h3> <TABLE class = "ReadingList" WIDTH=700> <TR><TD WIDTH="20%" class = "BridgeCenter"><strong>Date</strong></TD> <TD WIDTH="10%" class = "BridgeRight"><strong>Length</strong></TD> <TD WIDTH="70%" class = "BridgeLeft"><strong>Title</strong></TD></TR> <TR><TD class = "BridgeCenter">16/08/2007 20:49:55</TD> <TD class = "BridgeRight">1995</TD> <TD class = "BridgeLeft"><A HREF = "Notes_522_39310868.htm">Darwinian Altruism</A></TD></TR> <TR><TD class = "BridgeCenter">16/08/2007 20:47:02</TD> <TD class = "BridgeRight">1995</TD> <TD class = "BridgeLeft"><A HREF = "Notes_522_39310866.htm">Darwinian Altruism</A></TD></TR> <TR><TD class = "BridgeCenter">16/08/2007 14:44:10</TD> <TD class = "BridgeRight">24</TD> <TD class = "BridgeLeft"><A HREF = "Notes_522_39310614.htm">Darwinian Altruism</A></TD></TR> </TABLE> <BR><HR><BR><CENTER><TABLE class = "Bridge" WIDTH=950><TR> <TH WIDTH="25%">Note last updated</TH> <TH WIDTH="50%">Reference for this Topic</TH> <TH WIDTH="25%">Parent Topic</TH></TR> <TR><TD WIDTH="25%">19/08/2007 14:09:36</TD> <TD WIDTH="50%">522 (Darwinian Altruism)</TD> <TD WIDTH="25%"><A href ="../../Notes/Notes_3/Notes_397.htm">Simon - T1S1</A></TD></TR> </TABLE></center> <hr><h3>Summary of Note Links from this Page</h3> <CENTER> <TABLE Class = "Bridge" WIDTH=950> <TR> <td bgcolor="#ffcccc" WIDTH="20%"><A href = "../../Notes/Notes_5/Notes_528.htm"><span title="Low Quality">Darwinian Altruism 2</span></A></TD> <td bgcolor="#ffcccc" WIDTH="20%"><A href = "../../Notes/Notes_5/Notes_550.htm"><span title="Low Quality">Darwinian Altruism 3</span></A></TD> <td bgcolor="#ffcccc" WIDTH="20%"><A href = "../../Notes/Notes_5/Notes_529.htm"><span title="Low Quality">Darwinian Altruism 4</span></A></TD> <TD WIDTH="20%">&nbsp;</TD> <TD WIDTH="20%">&nbsp;</TD> </TR> </TABLE> </CENTER> <P class = "Centered">To access information, click on one of the links in the table above.</P> <BR><HR><BR><h3>Summary of Note Links to this Page</h3> <CENTER> <TABLE Class = "Bridge" WIDTH=950> <TR> <td bgcolor="#ffcccc" WIDTH="20%"><A href = "../../Notes/Notes_5/Notes_528.htm#1"><span title="Low Quality">Darwinian Altruism 2</span></A></TD> <td bgcolor="#ffff4d" WIDTH="20%"><A href = "../../Notes/Notes_3/Notes_397.htm#1"><span title="Medium Quality">Simon - T1S1</span></A>, <A href = "../../Notes/Notes_3/Notes_397.htm#16">2</A></TD> <TD WIDTH="20%">&nbsp;</TD> <TD WIDTH="20%">&nbsp;</TD> <TD WIDTH="20%">&nbsp;</TD> </TR> </TABLE> </CENTER> <P class = "Centered">To access information, click on one of the links in the table above.</P> <a name="ColourConventions"></a><br><hr><br><h3 class = "Left">Text Colour Conventions</h3><OL TYPE="1"><li><FONT COLOR = "0000FF">Blue</FONT>: Text by me; &copy; Theo Todman, 2018</li></OL><BR> <center><BR><HR><BR><TABLE class = "Bridge" WIDTH=950><TR><TD WIDTH="30%">&copy; Theo Todman, June 2007 - August 2018.</TD><TD WIDTH="40%">Please address any comments on this page to <A HREF="mailto:theo@theotodman.com">theo@theotodman.com</A>.</TD><TD WIDTH="30%">File output: <time datetime="2018-08-02T17:27" pubdate>02/08/2018 17:27:13</time> <br><A HREF="../../Notes/Notes_10/Notes_1010.htm">Website Maintenance Dashboard</A></TD></TR><TD WIDTH="30%"><A HREF="#Top">Return to Top of this Page</A></TD><TD WIDTH="40%"><A HREF="../../Notes/Notes_11/Notes_1140.htm">Return to Theo Todman's Philosophy Page</A></TD><TD WIDTH="30%"><A HREF="../../index.htm">Return to Theo Todman's Home Page</A></TD></TR></TABLE></CENTER><HR></BODY></HTML>