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Wiseman comments on The Tragedy of Group Selectionism - Less Wrong

36 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 07 November 2007 07:47AM

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Comment author: Wiseman 12 November 2007 06:11:00PM 0 points [-]

Wiseman's misunderstanding of group selection demonstrates why this would have been an important distinction to make.

Windy, the point you referred to from Caledonian is not different than my own, so clearly it is you who is misunderstanding something here.

I "get" what group selection is, as you know, at the high level it's not a difficult concept. But my point in an earlier argument is that the idea of group selection can logically only mean one thing, and it is not the idea that somehow the group can flourish while the individuals are slowly dying out, due to actual decreased fitness, that is a logical paradox that cannot be resolved. There seems to be exceptionally high expectations from group selection in this sense. Unrealistic expectations.

If you take away that paradoxical definition of group selection, and consider the only logical alternative, 'group selection' now becomes how can the group of individuals evolve in a way in which changes how the individual survives to benefit not just itself but also the group, but not the degree to which the individual survives. In this sense of group selection, evolution at the 'gene level' is not forbidden from partaking in group selection. Remember, if the degree to which the individual was able to survive decreased, if it was actual decreased fitness, we arrive back at the paradox where somehow the group is flourishing while all the individuals of that group are dead.