Re: Joel and Bryant /talk/ about Sociobiology and other stuff

Bryant (
19 Aug 1996 01:08:47 -0600

In article <>,
Joel and Lynn Gazis-Sax <> wrote:
>Bryant wrote:
>> Personally, I'm more interested in studying mechanisms than baby counting;
>> current adaptiveness doesn't tell us a thing, necessarily, about the
>> evolutionary history of a trait.
>> Bryant
>Then you are in agreement with Stephen Jay Gould and with me. SURPRISE! :)

:) I'd bet that Gould would agree that current adaptiveness (how many
babies one has) isn't a valid measure of a trait's evolutionary "purpose"
(or lack of purpose).

My major disagreement with Gould is his discounting of the relevance of
natural selection in evolution. He sees it as...well, marginalized in
importance, compared to most other evolutionists.

I think that when you're looking at a complex behavior or phenotypic
trait, say, antlers or parental nepotism, that the most productive place
to begin generating hypotheses is the adaptationist program. Because
natural selection is more likely than genetic drift ("chance") or
constraint to generate these sorts of traits.

This is, I hasten to add, a matter of quantity rather than quality. I
readily admit, as do all sociobiologists, that drift and constraint play
a role in evolution. It's a matter of disagreeing with Gould about the
role of selection in evolution--adaptationists say it plays a major role,
and Gould seems to disagree.