Re: Group Selection

Nick Rose (
Wed, 17 Feb 1999 12:26:14 -0500 (EST)

From: Nick Rose <>
To: JOM-EMIT Discussion List <>
Subject: Re: Group Selection
Date: Wed, 17 Feb 1999 12:26:14 -0500 (EST)

Incidentally I've picked up Unto Others through
inter-library loan today. I haven't had much of a chance
to read it yet, but so far D.S. Wilson and Sober's views on
cultural evolution are not particularly clear (to me).

"The heritability of human behaviours at all levels is
greatly complicated by cultural processes in addition to
genetic processes ... [refs Boyd and Richerson, Durham,
Cavalli-Sforza and Feldman, etc]. The fact that a
behaviour is transmitted culturally should not be taken to
mean that it is noninheritable. Cultural differences
between human groups are often stable over long periods of
time and are faithfully transmitted to descendant groups.
They are heritable in the sense that offspring units
resemble parent units, which is all that matters as far as
the process of natural selection is concerned." p114

It seems that Wilson and Sober want to collapse cultural
processes into a kind of 'group-level' heritability. I
haven't read far enough to find out precisely what that
means though ;)

Nick Rose
"University of the West of England"

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