animal societies

Dynastic Theory

Dynastic Theory: The Evolution of Altruism in Animal Societies.Excerpt from the Introduction:

A theory of the evolution of altruism should explain the evolutionary roots of human psychology—both selfishness and unselfishness, including loyalty and patriotism. It should do so honestly, without artifice, without contradiction. It should be able to explain why social animals draw the cooperative boundaries at the level of their own societies. It should not have to explain that a soldier ant defending its colony is really selfishly propagating its own genes—even when colony members are related by some implausibly remote degree. It should not have to explain that altruism requires leaps in order to evolve.

But as science philosopher Thomas Kuhn observed, once a scientific theory has achieved paradigm status, it does not die because of the accumulation of facts which contradict it; it dies only when an alternative theory takes its place. (Kuhn 1970, p. 77).

Thus, the ultimate purpose of this book: to set forth a theory that explains adaptations at the level of the colony, pack, and tribe; explains how traits that benefit animal societies but are self-sacrificing at the level of the individual have evolved; and explains how they evolve if they are just slightly advantageous. It is called “dynastic theory,” after the way in which animal societies (other than humans) are structured—because societies are formed and maintained through natal philopatry (offspring and further descendants remaining with their parent(s)), each is a family dynasty. Dynastic theory, which has nothing in common with the theory of group selection advocated by D.S. Wilson and, more recently by E.O. Wilson, except the recognition that group altruism exists, is set forth in Section Two. Its implications for the origins of human group adaptations, for the theory of natural selection, and for a theory of human cultural evolution, are set forth in Implications, which concludes this book.

To clear the way, however, it will first be necessary to thoroughly lay bare the fallacies of kin selection’s logic and predictions. This is Section One.

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Dynastic Theory ~ Table of Contents

Dynastic Theory: The Evolution of Altruism in Animal Societies.

Introduction 1

SECTION ONE ~ Kin Selection: A Failed Theory (and Its Ugly Implications) 7
Chapter One ~ Parental Care and Kin Selection 8
Chapter Two ~ Kin Selection and Sex 11
Chapter Three ~ Selfish Gene Theory 15
Chapter Four ~ The Haplodiploid Hypothesis 23
Chapter Five ~ Kin Selection and Conflict 31
Chapter Six ~ Dominance, Submission and Reproductive Suppression 37
Chapter Seven ~ Reciprocal Altruism 45
Chapter Eight ~ Kin Selection: Why Did It Stick? 51

SECTION TWO ~ Dynastic Theory: Natal Philopatry, Epigenesis and Altruism 63
Chapter Nine ~ Introducing Dynastic Theory 64
Chapter Ten ~ Dynastic Theory: The Role of Epigenesis 75
Chapter Eleven ~ Origins of Altruism: Parental Care, Natal Philopatry, and the Contextual Shift Hypothesis 81
Chapter Twelve ~ What Is an Individual Organism? 88
Chapter Thirteen ~ An Insect Colony as an Organism 99
Chapter Fourteen ~ Dynastic Theory: Applied to Social Insects 107
Chapter Fifteen ~ Dynastic Theory: Cooperatively Breeding Birds 126
Chapter Sixteen ~ Dynastic Theory: Social Mammals (Non-Primates) 140
Chapter Seventeen ~ Dynastic Theory: Primates 157
Chapter Eighteen ~ The Meaning of “Selection” (Re-Visiting Williams’ Group Selection Analysis) 169
Implications 181
Bibliography 189

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