The Evolution of Altruism through Kin Selection

Dennis L. Krebs

in The Origins of Morality

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780199778232
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199897261 | DOI:
The Evolution of Altruism through Kin Selection

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This chapter discusses the evolution of altruism through kin-selection. There is a great deal of evidence that humans and other animals are disposed to behave in accordance with Hamilton’s rule, sacrificing their interests for the sake of their kin and favoring those to whom they are most closely related, especially relatives with the highest reproductive potential. Kin-selection is a complex process that is widely misunderstood. The evidence suggests that humans (and many other animals) rely on three main cues to distinguish their kin from others—similarity (especially how much others look and smell like them), familiarity, and proximity (how close to them they reside). Because kin recognition mechanisms are designed in imperfect ways, people may end up helping others who look and act like their kin, thus contributing little or nothing to the propagation of their genes and rendering the behaviors genetically altruistic.

Keywords: kin selection; altruism; kin; Hamilton’s rule; reproductive potential; similarity; familiarity; proximity; genetic altruism

Chapter.  5469 words. 

Subjects: Psychology

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