Re: Adaptationism's Lessons (was Re: Evolution, "adaptation")

Paul Gallagher (
16 Sep 1996 21:12:01 -0400

In <> (John Wilkins) writes:
So according to Williams' treatement, it can be an adaptation depending
>upon the relative selection coefficients of alleles, or not. That surely
>makes sense. What sense of "adaptation" does not refer to alternative
>traits, in order to determine the relative advantage?

I'm not sure whether that's a rhetorical question. If you're serious,
I'll point you to some literature on the question.

First you should ask yourself in what sense is an allele a trait?

(I'd like to see a mathematical formalization of Dawkins' selfish genes that
takes into account heterozygous and (especially) epigenetic effects.. )

Look at a textbook like Introduction to Genetic Analysis, which argues
that you measure the fitness of a locus, not the allele, in the case of the
hemoglobin S gene.

Look at the articles on natural selection in Keywords in Evolutionary
Biology for a treatment of the weighted mean measurement of fitness.

Still, this is all besides the point. Beanbag genetics may work fine.
It does not follow that Bryant is right that there is a gene for
jealousy. Most genetic determinists are genetic reductionists and
cultural functionalists. It does not follow that even if genetic
reductionism and cultural functionalism are correct(and tractable), genetic
determinism is correct (and tractable).

By the way, has there been a heritability study for jealousy?