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Author Topic:   Evolution of Altruism
Modulous
Member (Idle past 396 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


(1)
Message 61 of 103 (586082)
10-11-2010 12:12 AM
Reply to: Message 52 by Bolder-dash
10-10-2010 9:07 PM


Oh come on modulus, you are making a natural selection argument for the genetic continuation of altruism. You need several components for that to occur; one a genetically controlled behavior which is inheritable, two a population in which the altruism exists in some individuals, and doesn't in others, and the altruistic one is being selected for, and three a starting point for this altruism.

Actually I'm making the argument that kin selection effects can mathematically contribute towards altruistic behaviour for non-kin so it is not ruled out straight away as the OP indicated. I was discussing the part in the OP that said

quote:
Kin selection doesn't explain such behavior, because non-kin are often the beneficiaries.

By pointing out that just because non-kin are the beneficiaries that does not rule out kin selection.

You are not make a very convincing plan about how this could all develop (well, truth is your are not making a plan at all, you are just puling this idea out of thin air-the only clue your are giving is that you believe it had to start in a germ line mutation of a non-social species-any candidates you wish to propose?)

I wasn't aware I was compelled to give a complete account. Since we do not have complete knowledge of animal behaviour that is clearly an absurd demand.

I am merely putting forward the notion that kin selection effects can still come into play for non-kin and how that might occur, which I outlined in Message 9. I was not trying to argue for the origins of altruistic behaviour - but how once we have altruistic behaviour among kin, we might get it between non-kin.

so I don't see how you can consider what you are saying as any more scientific than any creation story that i didn't make that you are deriding

I'm talking about kin selection effects and how behavioural strategies derived from them might lead to behaviours that benefit non kin (I know I'm repeating, but hopefully it will clear things up).

When you make a scientific argument, you should at least have some basic idea about how you are believing this to be true other than just saying evolution is smarter than you think.

I hadn't supported the idea you pinned on me, because it's not my idea. If you'd like to talk about the mathematics to see under what conditions kin selection effects could lead to altruistic behaviours for non kin, I'm happy to see what we can do. But first you have to understand what I was saying in my first post, and not make up stuff and claim I'm proposing absurdities.

There is no evidence at all that these types of behavior are genetically controlled, and it is even extremely more speculative to suggest that natural selection has played any role whatsoever in developing these types of human characteristics.

Indirect Genetic Effects Influence Antipredator Behavior in Guppies: Estimates of the Coefficient of Interaction Psi and the Inheritance of Reciprocity Bronwyn H. Bleakley and Edmund D. Brodie III

quote:
We measured ψ, the coefficient of the interaction, which describes the degree to which an individuals phenotype is influenced by the phenotype of its social partners. The genetic identity of social partners substantially influences inspection behavior, measures of threat assessment, and schooling and does so in positively reinforcing manner. We therefore demonstrate strong IGEs for antipredator behavior that represent the genetic variation necessary for the evolution of reciprocity.

OR The Genetic Basis of Political Cooperation
James H. Fowler, Laura A. Baker, and Christopher T. Dawes

quote:
These results suggest that heritability (h2) generates about 61% of the variance in turnout behaviour. The 95% credible interval (C.I.) for the estimate is (28%,77%), indicating that we can reject the hypothesis that genes play no role in political cooperation.

A germ line mutation in a non-social species, sometime before there were insects. That is the type of scientific theories we are getting here. What a lot of crap.

You asked me, "how this first mutation started", I answered 'the evidence suggests that it would likely have started as a copying error in a germ line cell'. I appreciate this didn't answer whatever question you were trying to ask, but it did answer the question you actually asked. I was hoping you'd take the hint and word your question more precisely so as I can understand exactly what you are asking.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 52 by Bolder-dash, posted 10-10-2010 9:07 PM Bolder-dash has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 76 by Bolder-dash, posted 10-15-2010 12:10 AM Modulous has responded

  
Blue Jay
Member (Idle past 989 days)
Posts: 2843
From: You couldn't pronounce it with your mouthparts
Joined: 02-04-2008


Message 62 of 103 (586089)
10-11-2010 1:24 AM
Reply to: Message 53 by Stephen Push
10-10-2010 9:20 PM


Hi, Stephen.

Stephen Push writes:

I think almost everyone is altruistic to some degree.

Probably so. My point is that the altruism that everyone shows to some degree is pretty trivial evolutionarily speaking. Donating to a charity, volunteering for a community center, giving your brother the last piece of pie or letting your aging mother-in-law live in your basement are not really evolutionary sacrifices, so they’re moot points for this discussion.

Only more extreme versions of altruism (i.e., altruism involving the actual sacrifice or risk of one’s life or reproductive capacity) will have real implications for evolution. Any risks short of that could easily be outweighed by the benefits received from social living, so they can hardly be seen as challenges to evolution.

I’m certain that absolute altruism, or the willingness to sacrifice one’s life for someone else’s life, isn’t tested commonly enough to really know how prevalent it is among humans, but I suspect that it’s a lot lower than movies and books would have us believe.

-----

Stephen Push writes:

It's almost certainly not a single gene. The trait is probably affected by many genes, expressed to varying degrees in various situations, and enhanced or muted to a great extent by culture and learning.

Obviously. But, it’s just easier to consider conceptual problems in genetics when we assume that everything is due to a single gene.

The thing is that the trait may not be encoded on genes at all: it may be a side effect of traits that are encoded on genes. For instance, a putative gene for cooperative behaviors and a putative gene for adrenaline-craving could easily intertwine to create an altruistic behavior---a “hero complex”---without the altruistic behavior itself being a distinct gene that evolution could work on directly.

In this case, cooperative behaviors and adrenaline-craving could be selected for in combination, but, selecting for the combination will also result in some individuals in the population that will have only one trait or the other. So, the heritability of the altruistic behavior would be somewhat low, which dampens the ability of evolution to work on it.

-----

Stephen Push writes:

Altruism need not require detailed risk calculations. It could be nothing more than a compulsion to help others that, in some situations, overcomes self-protecting drives such as fear or hunger.

No, there need not be a detailed risk calculation---at least, not one that is selected for with any precision. That was my point.

Selection is highly probabilistic, and it works on the level of a population: so, while a trait of altruism may generally improve life for the individual due to the social benefits received in return, the same trait of altruism may occasionally drive some individuals to sacrifice themselves.

But, the question then becomes whether the beneficial effects of a trait for altruism outweigh the risks of martyrdom for most individuals who have the trait. If only a small percentage of altruistic beings really make the ultimate evolutionary sacrifice, while, for the rest, the benefits outweigh the sacrifices, it’s hard to see how natural selection would work against the altruistic trait.


-Bluejay (a.k.a. Mantis, Thylacosmilus)

Darwin loves you.


This message is a reply to:
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Granny Magda
Member
Posts: 2380
From: UK
Joined: 11-12-2007


Message 63 of 103 (586090)
10-11-2010 1:36 AM
Reply to: Message 59 by Bolder-dash
10-10-2010 10:52 PM


Hi BD,

Let me just be clear, in case there was some confusion. When I was referencing remarks that modulous made about his ideas of how altruism was formed, I was NOT referencing remarks about granny magdas opinions about how altruism may have evolved.

No. Because I hadn't made any. You were misrepresenting Modulous, not me.

However, I will make note of the fact that in granny magdas version of how altruism arises, I guess we can conclude that it is a common mutation that has arisen independently a number of times.

Something else that no-one has said. There would have to be multiple genes involved in altruism, no-one is suggesting that a single gene is the last word in the evolution of altruism. And, no, I would not say that animal altruism is common. I would say that it is very uncommon. It is displayed by multiple species though, and since not all are closely related, multiple origins would make sense.

Can you think of another way that dogs and humans could both have social instincts and altruistic behaviours?

So anyway, I get the gist of YOUR theory of how altruism has arisen-that is that it is ubiquitous and probably evolved multiple times.

I did not say that altruism was ubiquitous, I said that social behaviours were ubiquitous. You really ought to quit misrepresenting people.

As for modulous, he is probably capable of explaining his own believes about his own theory, but if you don't feel he is maybe you can ask him.

I'll settle for just reading his posts without creating weird strawman versions of them.

Mutate and Survive


"A curious aspect of the theory of evolution is that everybody thinks he understands it." - Jacques Monod

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Blue Jay
Member (Idle past 989 days)
Posts: 2843
From: You couldn't pronounce it with your mouthparts
Joined: 02-04-2008


Message 64 of 103 (586092)
10-11-2010 1:48 AM
Reply to: Message 54 by Bolder-dash
10-10-2010 9:36 PM


Hi, Bolder-dash.

I would like to point out that the challenge presented to evolutionists on this thread was to provide a way that the Theory of Evolution could explain altruism, not to demonstrate that altruism evolved.

Not all of science is about demonstrating X and Y: a substantial portion of academic work involves massaging our paradigms with speculative reasoning in order to determine what really is and what really isn't a challenge to our paradigms. Theoretical work like this is always speculative, but the speculation is an important component.

If you want to deny us the right to devote some of our efforts to thinking and assessing without experimenting, then I doubt anybody is going to regard you as a particularly useful influence in this dicussion.

Also, I would suggest that, if you really must deny us the right, you at least try to do so in a thread in which the OP did not directly request that we exercise this right.


-Bluejay (a.k.a. Mantis, Thylacosmilus)

Darwin loves you.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 54 by Bolder-dash, posted 10-10-2010 9:36 PM Bolder-dash has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 75 by Bolder-dash, posted 10-15-2010 12:04 AM Blue Jay has responded

  
Stephen Push
Member (Idle past 3151 days)
Posts: 140
From: Virginia, USA
Joined: 10-08-2010


Message 65 of 103 (586130)
10-11-2010 12:01 PM


Some Hypotheses Concerning Morality
In my admittedly limited review of the literature on the evolution of human altruism, I have so far come across several hypotheses. Many of these ideas have already been expressed by others in this thread, but I thought it might be helpful to summarize them. They are not all mutually exclusive.

Some of these hypotheses concern morality and/or cooperation, but they are relevant to our discussion because they all attempt to explain human altruism. I am using the term morality here to distinguish the relevant behaviors from amoral forms of altruism, which are seen even in bacteria and yeast.

1) Morality is a result of natural selection. This school of thought has generated at least two hypotheses:

a) Morality evolved through individual selection, specifically kin selection and reciprocal altruism.

b) Morality evolved though group selection.

2) Morality is an exaptation (a new use for a structure or faculty that was selected for some other reason). According to this view, human intelligence evolved through natural selection because it facilitated tool use. Once intelligence reached a certain level, it was coopted by moral behavior. Specific moral codes are a result of cultural evolution.

3) Morality evolved through a process of genetic-cultural co-evolution.

In future posts I'll cite some specific references concerning each of these hypotheses.

Did I miss any?


  
Stephen Push
Member (Idle past 3151 days)
Posts: 140
From: Virginia, USA
Joined: 10-08-2010


Message 66 of 103 (586146)
10-11-2010 1:53 PM


Is Morality an Exaptation?
In a recent issue of PNAS (http://www.pnas.org/content/107/suppl.2/9015.full), Francisco Ayala lays out his view of morality as an exaptation, a new use for a faculty that evolved for another reason. He believes that humans alone evolved, through natural selection, a capacity for moral behavior. Specifically, they evolved high intelligence, which facilitated tool use. Once intelligence reached a certain level, it was coopted by moral behavior. From that point on, cultural evolution takes over. Ayala believes that moral codes evolve by a process of cultural group selection. The groups with the fittest moral codes outcompeted other groups.

Ayala’s hypothesis seems to depend on his assertion that morality is unique to humans. He dismisses research suggesting that incipient morality exists in non-human primates. I don’t know how valid this dismissal is. (Unfortunately the research on non-human primates appears to be in some turmoil because of the Marc Hauser affair.)

Ayala dismisses natural group selection because it is vulnerable to cheaters. I think his concept of cultural group selection is open to the same sort of criticism.


  
Jon
Inactive Member


Message 67 of 103 (586153)
10-11-2010 2:37 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Stephen Push
10-09-2010 9:09 AM


While this was an extreme example of heroism, such self-sacrificing behavior is common enough in our species to raise a challenge to the TOE.

Hardly. Evolution works on populations. Whether altruism exists in humans or not, I find it very probable to conceive of a scenario in which a population of altruists survive better than an otherwise-equal population of non-altruists.

Perhaps this behavior is evidence for group selection, but most evolutionary biologists seem to believe that group selection plays little, if any role, in evolution.

Huh?

Jon


"Can we say the chair on the cat, for example? Or the basket in the person? No, we can't..." - Harriet J. Ottenheimer

"Dim bulbs save on energy..." - jar


This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
 Message 68 by Stephen Push, posted 10-11-2010 3:25 PM Jon has responded

  
Stephen Push
Member (Idle past 3151 days)
Posts: 140
From: Virginia, USA
Joined: 10-08-2010


Message 68 of 103 (586160)
10-11-2010 3:25 PM
Reply to: Message 67 by Jon
10-11-2010 2:37 PM


Is Altruism a Result of Group Selection?
Hardly. Evolution works on populations. Whether altruism exists in humans or not, I find it very probable to conceive of a scenario in which a population of altruists survive better than an otherwise-equal population of non-altruists.

Are you saying that altruism has evloved as a result of group selection? If so, could you elaborate on how altruism could become fixed in a population despite the existence of non-altruists?

Edited by Stephen Push, : Corrected typos.

Edited by Stephen Push, : Corrected typo.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 67 by Jon, posted 10-11-2010 2:37 PM Jon has responded

Replies to this message:
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Jon
Inactive Member


Message 69 of 103 (586168)
10-11-2010 6:16 PM
Reply to: Message 68 by Stephen Push
10-11-2010 3:25 PM


Re: Is Altruism a Result of Group Selection?
Are you saying that altruism has evloved as a result of group selection?

No. That is not what I'm saying. I have made no statement regarding the order of things in the Real world.

If so, could you elaborate on how altruism could become fixed in a population despite the existence of non-altruists?

Some are big;
Some are small.
Some got nothing
Down there at all.

Jon

Edited by Jon, : Cut... uncut.


"Can we say the chair on the cat, for example? Or the basket in the person? No, we can't..." - Harriet J. Ottenheimer

"Dim bulbs save on energy..." - jar


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RAZD
Member
Posts: 20156
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 3.9


(1)
Message 70 of 103 (586169)
10-11-2010 6:19 PM
Reply to: Message 68 by Stephen Push
10-11-2010 3:25 PM


Re: Is Altruism a Result of Group Selection?
Hi Stephen Push, and welcome to the fray.

Are you saying that altruism has evloved as a result of group selection?

Yes, and that selection then operates on the group, so that the group that selects altruistic behavior has better overall success at survival and reproduction.

If so, could you elaborate on how altruism could become fixed in a population despite the existence of non-altruists?

By punishment of the non-altruists.

http://www.pnas.org/content/100/6/3531.full

quote:
Both laboratory and field data suggest that people punish noncooperators even in one-shot interactions. ...

In laboratory experiments, people punish noncooperators at a cost to themselves even in one-shot interactions (10, 11) and ethnographic data suggest that such altruistic punishment helps to sustain cooperation in human societies (12). It might seem that invoking altruistic punishment simply creates a new evolutionary puzzle: why do people incur costs to punish others and provide benefits to nonrelatives? However, here we show that group selection can lead to the evolution of altruistic punishment in larger groups because the problem of deterring free riders in the case of altruistic cooperation is fundamentally different from the problem of deterring free riders in the case of altruistic punishment. This asymmetry arises because the payoff disadvantage of altruistic cooperators relative to defectors is independent of the frequency of defectors in the population, whereas the cost disadvantage for those engaged in altruistic punishment declines as defectors become rare because acts of punishment become very infrequent (13). Thus, when altruistic punishers are common, individual level selection operating against them is weak.


We can also find evidence of this behavior in other primates, where non-altruistic behavior is punished. Unfortunately I've lost the link to the article I had that showed this in capucin monkeys )there are many that show cooperative behavior and a sense of fairness in perceived rewards).

Enjoy.


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
Rebel American Zen Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.


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This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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Stephen Push
Member (Idle past 3151 days)
Posts: 140
From: Virginia, USA
Joined: 10-08-2010


Message 71 of 103 (586228)
10-12-2010 2:01 AM
Reply to: Message 70 by RAZD
10-11-2010 6:19 PM


Re: Is Altruism a Result of Group Selection?
Thank you for the link to the article, RAZD.

I had been using the term "group selection" to refer to genetic evolution. The article you cited shows how group selection could foster cooperation through cultural evolution, but the authors noted that this would not be the case for genetic evolution. Nevertheless, the authors wrote, "It should be noted, however, that the genetic evolution of moral emotions might be favored by ordinary natural selection in social environments shaped by cultural group selection."


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Stephen Push
Member (Idle past 3151 days)
Posts: 140
From: Virginia, USA
Joined: 10-08-2010


(1)
Message 72 of 103 (586260)
10-12-2010 8:56 AM


"Altruism researchers must cooperate"
The following quote is from an article in the current issue of Nature:

Altruism researchers must cooperate

Biologists studying the evolution of social behaviour are at loggerheads. The disputes — mainly over methods — are holding back the field, says Samir Okasha.

Last month, 30 leading evolutionary biologists met in Amsterdam to discuss a burgeoning controversy. The question of how altruistic behaviour can arise through natural selection, once regarded as settled, is again the subject of heated debate.

Samir Okasha, Samir.Okasha@bristol.ac.uk
Journal name: Nature
Volume: 467
Pages: 653–655
Date published: 07 October 2010
DOI: doi:10.1038/467653a
Published online 06 October 2010


  
Bolder-dash
Member (Idle past 1922 days)
Posts: 983
From: China
Joined: 11-14-2009


Message 73 of 103 (586807)
10-14-2010 11:56 PM
Reply to: Message 49 by Phage0070
10-10-2010 4:07 PM


I agree wholeheartedly. Almost nothing one can say about human tendency can logically be explained genetically simply by our tribal nature, or our hunter-gathering history (but this sure doesn't stop every Nature and Science magazine from directly attributing our personalities to this). Whatever affect that brief time in history could have on us, should not have much more influence than all the other times in our history when we lived another way. I suspect we weren't hunter gatherers for much longer than we were waring pillagers, or wine drinking sports fans.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 49 by Phage0070, posted 10-10-2010 4:07 PM Phage0070 has responded

Replies to this message:
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Bolder-dash
Member (Idle past 1922 days)
Posts: 983
From: China
Joined: 11-14-2009


Message 74 of 103 (586808)
10-15-2010 12:00 AM
Reply to: Message 55 by Dr Adequate
10-10-2010 9:52 PM


Could you suggest an alternative?

An alternative to what? To fanciful speculation? I haven't seen anything other than that presented here so far. I don't know, other fanciful speculation?


This message is a reply to:
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Bolder-dash
Member (Idle past 1922 days)
Posts: 983
From: China
Joined: 11-14-2009


Message 75 of 103 (586809)
10-15-2010 12:04 AM
Reply to: Message 64 by Blue Jay
10-11-2010 1:48 AM


I would like to point out that the challenge presented to evolutionists on this thread was to provide a way that the Theory of Evolution could explain altruism, not to demonstrate that altruism evolved.

Don't you first need to show that altruism did in fact evolve, before you can begin to speculate wildly on how?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 64 by Blue Jay, posted 10-11-2010 1:48 AM Blue Jay has responded

Replies to this message:
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