Document Detail

Rationality and social behavior.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  12957119     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
This article penetrates the relationship between social behavior and rationality. A critical analysis is made of efforts to classify some behaviors as altruistic, as they simultaneously meet criteria of rationality by not truly being self-destructive. Newcomb's paradox is one attempt to create a hybrid behavior that is both irrational and still meets some criterion of rationality. Such dubious rationality is often seen as a source of altruistic behavior. Group selection is a controversial topic. Sober and Wilson (Unto Others--The Evolution and Psychology of Unselfish Behavior, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1998) suggest that a very wide concept of group selection might be used to explain altruism. This concept also includes kin selection and reciprocity, which blurs its focus. The latter mechanisms hardly need further arguments to prove their existence. This article suggests that it is group selection in a strict sense that should be investigated to limit semantic neologism and confusion. In evaluation, the effort to muster a mechanism for altruism out of group selection has not been successful. However, this is not the end to group selection, but rather a good reason to investigate more promising possibilities. There is little reason to burden group selection with the instability of altruism caused by altruistic members of a group having lower fitness than egoistic members. Group selection is much more likely to develop in combination with group egoism. A common project is supported by incitement against free riding, where conformist members joined in solidarity achieve a higher fitness than members pursuing more individualistic options. Group egoism is in no conflict with rationality, and the effects of group selection will be supported rather than threatened by individual selection. Empirical evidence indicates a high level of traits such as conformism and out-group antagonism in line with group egoism. These traits are also likely candidates for behavior favored by group selection since they homogenize the group and link the different individuals closer to one another and a similar fate.
Jan Tullberg
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Journal of theoretical biology     Volume:  224     ISSN:  0022-5193     ISO Abbreviation:  J. Theor. Biol.     Publication Date:  2003 Oct 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2003-09-05     Completed Date:  2003-12-15     Revised Date:  2009-11-19    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0376342     Medline TA:  J Theor Biol     Country:  England    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  469-78     Citation Subset:  IM    
Stockholm School of Economics, PO Box 6501, SE-113 83 Stockholm, Sweden.
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MeSH Terms
Behavior, Animal
Cooperative Behavior
Group Processes*
Selection, Genetic
Social Behavior*

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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