Re: Altruism

J Cook (0002019573@MCIMAIL.COM)
Thu, 1 Aug 1996 07:45:00 EST

-- [ From: Jesse S. Cook III * EMC.Ver #2.3 ] --

-------- REPLY, Original message follows --------

Date: Wednesday, 31-Jul-96 03:43 PM

From: Dwight W. Read \ Internet: (
From: Dwight W. Read \ Internet: (
To: Multiple recipients of list ANTHRO-L \ Internet:

Subject: Re: Altruism

Cook raises an interesting point:

>Granted, but it would still make more sense to have a different name for how
>gets from a group of kin to the species. Assuming for the sake of argument
>that there is such a thing as altruism among nonhuman animals, would it be so
>selectively strong that all kin groups not having it would die out, leaving
>only groups that have it?

It gets to be tricky. At the kin level, the argument requires that the
individual with the altruistic allele, while giving up fitness, provides enough
relatives with enough extra fitness so that by virtue of their also having the
altruistic allele, the "fitness of the allele" summed across the altruist and
the relatives is positive. I suspect that if you look at the mathematics in
the original argument carefully, you may well find that the argument gets to be
problematic (as Cook suggests) when one goes from the kin level to the
assertion that this will lead to replacement. The weaker form of the argument
would be to assert that a balanced polymorphism arises between the altruistic
and non-altruistic form of the allele.

There are clearly some conceptual problems; e.g., if I and my relatives share
the altruistic allele, we cannot all simultaneously act to increase each
other's relative fitness--or at least it starts to look like exchange rather
than altruism at that point.

D. Read

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Has anyone actually identified an allele for altruism in the human genome?

Jesse S. Cook III