Graduate studies at Western
|Abstract||Darwin’s claim is probably guilty of pardonable exaggeration. After all he didn’t prove the origin of man, and Locke’s greatest contributions were to political philosophy, not metaphysics. But it may turn out that Darwin’s twentieth century grandchild, genomics, vindicates this claim both with respect to metaphysics and political philosophy. Here I will focus on the latter claim alone, however. From the year that William Hamilton first introduced the concept of inclusive fitness and the mechanism of kin selection, biologists, psychologists, game theorists, philosophers and others have been adding details to answer the question of how altruism is possible as a biological disposition. We now have a fairly well articulated story of how we could have gotten from there– nature red in tooth and claw-- to here–an almost universal commitment to morality. That is, there is now a scenario showing how a lineage of organisms selected for maximizing genetic representation in subsequent generations could come eventually to be composed of cooperating creatures. Establishing this bare possibility was an important turning point for biological anthropology, for human sociobiology, and for evolutionary psychology. Prior to Hamilton’s breakthrough it was intellectually permissible to write off Darwinism as irrelevant to distinctively human behavior and human institutions. The unchecked contempt with which defenders of the autonomy of the social from the biological operated in their attacks on naturalistic approaches to social processes was both breath taking and without effective rejoinder.1 The major components of the research program, the models and simulations, the comparative ethology, are well known. Once Hamilton showed that inclusive fitness maximization favors the emergence of altruism towards off-spring, a virtual riot of ethological activity began to identify previously known cases of off-spring care as kin-selected, and to uncover new examples of it. Once Hamilton was joined by Axelrod in identifying circumstances under which reciprocal altruism between genetically unrelated beings would be selected for, the community of game theorists began to make common cause with evolutionary biologists in the discovery of games in which the cooperative solution is a Nash equilibrium..|
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