The Evolution of Altruism through Group Selection and Imperfect Design

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 Group Selection and Imperfect Design

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This chapter reviews accounts of the evolution of altruism through group selection, and explains how imperfections in the design of evolved mental mechanisms can give rise to altruistic acts. Although many evolutionary theorists reject the idea that biological forms of altruism have evolved through group selection, some prominent evolutionary theorists have advanced theoretical arguments and empirical evidence in support of this process. Mental mechanisms that evolved because they enabled individuals to reap the adaptive benefits of social learning and reasoning may dispose them to behave in costly altruistic ways and render them susceptible to manipulation. Mental mechanisms that disposed early humans to behave in genetically selfish, fitness-increasing ways in the environments in which they evolved may dispose modern humans to behave in genetically altruistic, fitness-reducing ways in modern environments.

Keywords: group selection; altruism; design imperfections; social learning; reason; genetic selfishness; fitness

Chapter.  4197 words. 

Subjects: Psychology

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