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Go to: Jonathan Haidt: Religion, evolution, and the ecstasy of self-transcendence

Jonathan Haidt's Avatar Jump to comment 35 by Jonathan Haidt

Thanks, folks, for welcoming me.

To quote Donald:

"No-one disputes that living in groups can be beneficial, and I think everyone agrees that: Evolution is the differential survival of competing genes. Natural selection is the differential selection of individuals to contribute genes into the future. Also: The reproductive success of genes is the product of the success of the individual and the success of the group."

I agree with all four of these statements, but i'm not sure that Richard would. I like Richard's formulation of replicators and vehicles. We all agree that individual organisms are vehicles for selfish replicators. I THINK the debate boils down to: are groups ever important vehicles built by replicators (via their design of organisms for groupishness)? I agree with Richard that the answer is no for 99% of the species on earth. I am proposing (not asserting -- i do say that "I can't be sure" in my TED talk) that for humans, the answer is yes. This is what I try to explain in chapter 9 of my book.

Wed, 21 Mar 2012 13:15:55 UTC | #929256

Go to: Jonathan Haidt: Religion, evolution, and the ecstasy of self-transcendence

Jonathan Haidt's Avatar Jump to comment 15 by Jonathan Haidt

Richard, and others:

We can't work out our disagreements based on what I said in a TED talk. That's 18 minutes with no footnotes and a mandate to make novel ideas accessible to a broad audience. The debate that I look forward to having with you is over whether the situation has materially changed since you wrote The Selfish Gene, which completely convinced me when I was in college that group selection was rubbish.

In chapter 9 of The Righteous Mind I describe four pieces of new evidence -- four findings or new perspectives that make the case must stronger than it appeared in the 1970s: 1) major transitions theory, extended out to human cultures as a transition 2) shared intentionality (work by Michael Tomasello) 3) Gene-Culture co-evolution (Boyd and Richerson) 4) Genetic evolution is much much faster than we thought 30 years ago

I do not believe the case is proved either way, but I think multi-level selection is "back in the frame," at very least, and it is time for a broader discussion of it -- one conducted with curiosity, not anger.

For those of you who don't want to buy my book, just email me and I'll send you chapter 9.

jon haidt haidt at virginia dot edu

Tue, 20 Mar 2012 12:08:27 UTC | #928915

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