Rethinking the Theoretical Foundation of Sociobiology

  title={Rethinking the Theoretical Foundation of Sociobiology},
  author={David Sloan Wilson and Edward O. Wilson},
  journal={The Quarterly Review of Biology},
  pages={327 - 348}
  • D. Wilson, E. Wilson
  • Published 1 December 2007
  • Psychology, Biology
  • The Quarterly Review of Biology
Current sociobiology is in theoretical disarray, with a diversity of frameworks that are poorly related to each other. Part of the problem is a reluctance to revisit the pivotal events that took place during the 1960s, including the rejection of group selection and the development of alternative theoretical frameworks to explain the evolution of cooperative and altruistic behaviors. In this article, we take a “back to basics” approach, explaining what group selection is, why its rejection was… 
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It is argued that semantic precision is required in discussing terms such as kin selection, group selection, and altruism, but once care is taken, the objections to the unity of theoretical sociobiology largely evaporate.
The Behavioral Sciences and Sociobiology: A Darwinian Approach
Darwinian natural selection theory as modified over the last 50 years continues to be the basis for evolutionary research into the interactions between the sexes, helpful behavior in its various forms, especially the evolution of altruistic behavior, and all aspects of human sociality.
“Altruism: a saga”
There is a long history of social and biological thought intermingling and influencing each other when it comes to the study of social behavior, going back to Darwin, which suggests that something more than mere academic sword-fighting is going on in the evolution of altruism.
of Theoretical and Mathematical History UC Riverside
The Historical Database of Sociocultural Evolution brings the available historical and archaeological data together in a way that will allow hypotheses concerning the origin of ultrasociality to be tested rigorously, and introduces four hypotheses that are intended to test using the database.
Sociology and evolutionary biology: A troubled past, a promising future
The New Evolutionary Sociology offers a comprehensive review of the history of evolutionary analysis in sociology that demonstrates its present value ‘once old biases and prejudices are mitigated
DARWIN Y LOS DILEMAS SOCIALES Darwin and the Social Dilemmas
It is argued that Darwin did not assume, nor is it necessary to assume, an inevitable conflict between individual and group selection in the explanation of morality, and two teachings result from this Darwinian project, one for moral philosophy and the other for the theory of natural selection.
Purposive Social Selection and the Evolution of Human Altruism
This article examines both positive and negative social sanctioning by human groups to show that purposive social selection at thelevel of phenotype can have parallel effects at the level of genotype, and that social control has shaped human genetic nature profoundly.
Recent developments in sociobiology and the scientific method.
  • D. Hughes
  • Psychology
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  • 2011


Ideological Commitments in Evolutionary Theories
The controversy over the theory of evolution raging in the 19th century was especially intense over the descent of humankind, since the linkage of our species to nonhuman ancestors challenged the
Balancing synthesis with pluralism in sociobiology
  • K. Foster
  • Education
    Journal of evolutionary biology
  • 2006
The point I wish to make here is that no matter how convincing a synthesis this is, one should not come away with the idea that theirs is the only correct or even the best way to analyse cooperation.
Social semantics: toward a genuine pluralism in the study of social behaviour
  • D. Wilson
  • Biology
    Journal of evolutionary biology
  • 2008
Pluralism is the coexistence of equivalent theoretical frameworks, either because they are historically entrenched or because they achieve separate insights by viewing the same process in different
Individualist and Multi-level Perspectives on Selection in Structured Populations
Recent years have seen a renewed debate over the importance of groupselection, especially as it relates to the evolution of altruism. Onefeature of this debate has been disagreement over which kinds
Eusociality: origin and consequences.
In this new assessment of the empirical evidence, an alternative to the standard model is proposed: group selection is the strong binding force in eusocial evolution; individual selection, the strong
Group Fitness and Multi-level Selection: Replies to Commentaries
Sober and Wilson’s main argument is that there is not a particularly tight connection between the main theoretical ideas of multi-level selection (MLS) theory and the π/φ parameterization that we
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Four paths to cooperation have been delineated and some recent work that has attempted to examine the role ofphylogeny, punishment and morality in the light of cooperative behavior are touched upon.
Kin selection is the key to altruism.
The Theory of Kin Selection
This paper reviews the apparently diverse theoretical studies of kin selection in a common population genetic framework and discusses the implications of this theory for many of the terms and concepts used in sociobiology.