Kin selection doesn't explain such behavior, because non-kin are often the beneficiaries.
But consider the "gene for altruism" (to simplify what is probably more complex) as a selfish gene. It doesn't care whether it sacrifices my life for the benefit of my alleles for blue eyes or lobeless ears or if my death benefits the lobate and brown-eyed instead. As far as it is concerned, my other genes can sink or swim. It would sacrifice my life for the benefit of people who also have copies of the gene for altruism. And it would seem that most people do. To that extent, they are kin enough for its purposes.
The ToE would have very little explanatory power if, every time apparently maladaptive behavior was observed, it was written off as "social evolution." Do you believe that the ToE can be used to explain the social behavior of non-human animals but cannot be used to explain human social behavior?
To the extent that our big thinky brains can over-ride our instincts, this must be the case.
For example, if you pointed me to any other group of mammals that got up at night and went to bed in the morning, I should say that they were by instinct nocturnal. If it was a bunch of humans, I would say that those particular humans work nightshifts, and that although humans are by instinct (i.e. by evolution) diurnal, they have over-ridden that instinct because they needed the money. Would you have any objection to such an explanation?
Of course, it was evolution that endowed us with these clever brains of ours ... but this does mean that our behavior often cannot be explained with reference to evolved instincts.
If I may just single out your post, as it seems to reflect a lot of other similar responses, and say that I think there is just such pure poppycock on so many levels.
First, do you actually believe there is a gene which controls altruism? And do you think that there are specific mutations that could happen to that gene which would suddenly make one more altruistic or less altruistic? Do you also think that there are people who may have gotten a mutation to their own altruism gene, and thus they could possibly not share this same inherited desire to be selfless? Maybe we need to rethink our justice system, and cut some slack to those who have a retarded altruism gene-since its really not their fault.
Furthermore, do you think that at some time in the past, there were groups of these social primates, and in those groups NONE of the individuals had any sense of altruism, until one altruistic "eve" started this whole behavior off? With some simple protein shift, a baby was born that thought, I don't know why, but I am going to be the most selfless being on this planet. And the behavior was so successful for reproduction that it quickly spread through this original non-altruistic society? Or perhaps it was just a mutation to the selfish gene? A faulty copy of a baboons desire to steal his neighbor's food? They simply were incapable of being as mean as their friends. And that happened to be a stroke of luck, in the getting laid department.
These types of stories that evolutionists love to tell ...
If I could draw your attention to the real world for a minute, I would point out that you, a creationist, made up the "poppycock" in your post, which appears to have nothing to do with anything that Modulous actually wrote in a post that you are apparently unable to criticize.
What's more, I doubt that each Paleolithic band formed a reproductively isolated population. There was probably immigration into the bands, further diluting the degree of relatedness.
Sure, they'd have been exogamous. But that cuts both ways --- it means that someone marrying into a band is likely already some sort of cousin.
An implied assumption of your argument is that human evolution essentially stopped 10,000 years ago. That we are Paleolithic creatures trying to cope in a modern social environment to which we are not adapted. I don't see any grounds for that assumption. The bill lengths of Darwin's finches have changed over a few generations in response to changes in the food supply. Why assume that human traits haven't changed over hundreds of generations?
They have, of course, but not as much as we'd like. Otherwise a sedentary lifestyle would be good for me.
There is no evidence at all that these types of behavior are genetically controlled ...
Could you suggest an alternative?
Take ants, for instance. Do they indoctrinate their larvae into the fundamental principles of ant society? Does an ant sacrificing its life for the good of the nest burn with patriotism and murmur to itself: "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori"?
Don't you first need to show that altruism did in fact evolve, before you can begin to speculate wildly on how?
Not according to the question asked. We were required to produce explanations of a certain phenomenon within a certain paradigm.
If someone had instead asked: "Can you provide evidence showing beyond a shadow of possible doubt that altruism evolved and exactly how it did so", then the correct answer would have been "no".
Finally, I would point out that you are wrong to say "speculate wildly". We were asked to speculate within the evolutionary paradigm of well-understood and well-evidenced biological mechanisms such as natural selection and mutation and recombination and genetic drift.
That is not wild speculation.
To propose an explanation involving an unevidenced invisible man who performed unevidenced magic using unevidenced methods would be speculating wildly. But we were asked to speculate within the boundaries of known mechanisms.
This is not wild speculation any more than explaining why an apple fell from a tree is wild speculation. It did so according to the theory of gravity. How "wild" a "speculation" is that?
Just what I was thinking. In that case, sympathy could be a mere epiphenomenon of empathy. Maybe the ability to know someone else's feelings carries with it the necessity of caring about them, and the fact that we do the latter is no more adaptive of itself than sympathetic yawning.
On the other hand, sociopaths exist. Such people are acutely empathetic, but feel no sympathy. But I do not think that this is a serious objection to an evolutionary account of sympathy such as is suggested by this hypothesis. By the time the first sociopath arose, altruism could already have become an evolutionarily stable strategy.