Multi-level selection

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Multi level selection is the evolutionary theory that selection can act on genes organised into different levels of aggregation which include phenotypes, individuals, kin-groups, groups, species and even entire ecosystems. Individual level and kin-group selection are universally accepted, however group level selection is hotly contested.

Group selection was originally argued on the grounds that groups can compete with each other. A good example of this is between the British and French empires. The British successfully secured the best colonies, and as a consequence, were able to massively increased their bio mass at the expense of the French.

Group selection is now argued to occur even in the absence of intergroup competition since groups with higher levels of altruism can disproportionately increase their bio mass due to the returns on superior levels of cooperation.

Women's Preferences[edit | edit source]

Women would theoretically change their preferences as the intensity of levels of selection change. In high levels of individual level selection, altruism would be a fitness disadvantage, and women would prefer men with dark triad traits advantageous in a cut throat ecology [1]. This would explain rising levels of inceldom in group selected males.

Richard Dawkins[edit | edit source]

All the elements of group selection are present in Dawkins book the extended phenotype. So Evidently, he was once quite warm to group selection. However in the 80s, individuals in the National Front started using the selfish gene to promote their ethno-nationalism. Dawkins became very negative on group selection around this time, rejecting it on the basis that the gene is the only unit of selection. As a consequence, multi level selectionists became unnecessarily pedantic deconflating units and levels of selection in order to clarify that the unit of selection can be aggregated on different levels.

Criticisms of group selection[edit | edit source]

It must be remembered that criticisms of group selection are only targeted at group selection without intergroup competition. And that the opponents of group selection have made no arguments against group selection from intergroup competition.

Extremely improbable[edit | edit source]

Gregory Cochran argues that group selection is mathematically so extremely improbable that it could never occur. However, the number of species to ever existed is enormous, so by the lore of the large numbers we might expect a few of them (humans and insect colonies) to be group selected. Additionally, intelligent life appears to be extremely improbable, and from that basis we might expect it to arise from an improbable selection mechanism.

Cheaters in the group[edit | edit source]

Jean-François Gariépy argues that selection favours cheaters in the group, and so group selection wouldn't be able to work with high levels of cheating. The counter argument is that selection also disfavors cheaters in the group since groups are able to develop comprehensive internal regulatory systems designed to punish cheaters such as religion.

Pinker's criticisms[edit | edit source]

In a popular article [2], Pinker has argued that there's a false allure to group selection, that multi level selection deviates from Darwin's original theory of individual level selection, and that no one would sacrifice themselves for the good of the group.

See also[edit | edit source]