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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 08:43:00PM 0 points [-]

Windy, according to my logic, yes, to a certain degree all adaptations contribute to some sort of group survival, thus negating the importance of drawing the distinction between group and individual/K selection as some sort of fundamental difference in the mechanics of evolution.

That doesn't mean I'm saying 'group selection' is not a valid area of study, it still needs to be resolved how some adaptations which seem detrimental to the individual end up being good for the individual by proxy of the being good for the group. This is not so much a redefinition of 'group selection' as it is lowering the expectations of what group selection can be expected to accomplish, namely not being able to resolve some impossible logical paradox.

"Actual decreased fitness" does not mean "all will die". If it is logically impossible for "actual decreased fitness" to evolve, how do you explain worker ants? (ignore for the moment whether it's kin or group selection or what, just consider what the fitness of the workers is.)

If you are talking about genetic fitness, the pure ability to continue the genetic line, yes it does mean eventually all will die. I am not giving any importance to an arbitrary definition of 'health', which is not always important to genetic survival. If the organism reproduces successfully from generation to generation, then it is fit, period. The more it reproduces successfully, the more fit. Existence of the genome in an active form is the only important factor.

So to reinforce the impossibility of the paradox, if the group is able to continue its existence generation after generation via the survival of the individuals within that group, then the individuals must themselves be 'fit', mustn't they? No matter the bizzarity of how they are able to reproduce, they do, which is why the group survives.

Worker ants are explained because through the breeding structure of an ant colony, the worker ants behavior ensures a genome very similar to it's own will continue to exist. It effectively is protecting its own genome even if won't actually get to reproduce with its exact genome.