From: Francesca S. Alcorn (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Fri 27 Feb 2004 - 01:10:52 GMT
>At 01:08 PM 20/02/04 -0500, frankie wrote:
>>But in social animals, competition occurs *between groups* as well
>>as between individuals. Prides of lions and troops of monkeys
>>compete for territory much like individual birds do. And in the
>>example of ants, the concept of individuals being the unit of
>>selection is a bit of a stretch.
>You really need to read Hamilton who worked out how it works at the
>level of shared genes.
I'll look into it, but I don't know that it will change my contention
- if you have a bunch of genetically identical individuals running around (as in ants) then they are pretty expendable as individual units. An ant can't live/reproduce without it's colony, but the colony can absorb the loss of quite a few of it's ants. It's almost as if the anthill itself is the organism (didn't Dennett write something like that in Mind's I?) My understanding is that there is a high correlation between genetic relatedness and the degree of social cohesion in a group. Which explains racism, but makes me wonder what we will do if the Global Village becomes a big "melting pot" and as a species we become more genetically similar (lose our biodiversity).
>Lion prides are generally sisters or half sisters and the transient
>males are usually closely related, typically brothers. Hamilton was
>particularly interested in ants, bees and wasps. They have a
>particular gene system where the workers are closer related to their
>reproductive sibs than they are to their own offspring. I can't
>really do justice to this, if you can't find Hamilton's work
>described on the web, ask and I will get you the pointers.
>>Mutual interdependence decreases the importance of the individual.
>I don't think so, not from a gene's viewpoint.
I was thinking more along the lines of a genetically primo male in a
pride with a really poor territory - he may end up failing on the
basis of *pride's* fitness or lack there of. And of course the
reverse is possible as well: genetically compromised individuals who
survive because of their group.
So the fitness of the group trumps the genetic fitness of an individual.
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