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The Selfish Gene Theory Philosophy Essay

Dawkins proposed that the individual is only a carrier for genes (the replicators), and this the body functions as a pre-coded tool where these genes propagate themselves, adapting over time to match the needs of their environment. Midgely's debate hinges around a misinterpretation of Dawkins' theory on several levels. Mistakenly projecting the nature of genetic selection to its implications for the real human mind is a repeated theme in her article 'Gene Juggling. ' She adopts a view that, if genes are selfish replicators selected because of their own ability to make it through in the gene pool, the nature of the real human brain must, by extension, also be selfish. However, genes which are selected for their ability to endure may well in the end code for altruistic behaviour at the amount of the individual, evidence for which will be mentioned through the span of this essay. In some respects she even requires a literal interpretation (as implied in the titular quotation), implying that the gene is consciously selfish, which is of course absurd, and doesn't reflect the intended interpretation of the idea.

Midgely (1979) stated:

(Dawkins) central point is that the emotional characteristics of man is exclusively self-interested, and he argues this by professing that all emotional aspect is so he resorts to arguing from speculations about the emotional aspect of genes, which he treats as the source and archetype of all emotional characteristics.

- Gene Juggling, (1979) pp- 445

This is a misapplication of the idea because it mistakenly shifts the focus from the hereditary level to the average person level. The quotation symbolizes an invalid syllogistic form, i. e. an incorrect propositional building: She assumes that because genes which are subject to the laws and regulations of evolution code for organisms, and the mechanisms of advancement select for genes which follow their own interest, (quite simply, genes which are 'selfish'), the emotional dynamics of man must therefore also be selfish. This is a misconception, and a incorrect jump of logic - the hereditary environment is altogether different from the macroscopic environment. There is facts, such as game theory ESS models and eusocial insect studies, that the type of genes can give climb to altruistic behaviour at the amount of the organism, or individual, as explained consistently in the selfish gene. Any behaviour - whether altruistic or selfish - can only just come to pass if it eventually benefits the replicators, although at the level of the individual, phenotypic results coded for by genes connect to the many conditions of the environment, that the permutations are practically infinite (Woltereck, 1909) in a norm of effect. Therefore, the possible phenotype of any organism with a given genotype is impossible to share with - there will be environments where altruistic behaviour is the foremost strategy for success, and conditions where self interested behaviour is the maximum, and everything in between. The optimal technique for survival, on any level of the phenotype (morphology, physiology, behaviour) will vary as much as the permutations of environmental areas. Therefore, Midgley's assertion that because genes action selfishly, the mental state of man must be selfish, is fallacious - the genotype may interact with the environment to produce altruistic behavior and non-selfish sentiment.

With regard to visible altruism in pets, (Hamilton, 1972) postulated these behaviours may have changed as time passes because they serve to increase hereditary fitness. Generally in most species (haplodiploids being an exception) the hereditary relatedness between parent and child, as well as between siblings, is 0. 5. Hamilton recommended that altruistic behaviour would be proportionate to genetic relatedness, with risk also considered. The formula for this is: rB>C. For example, in a situation with equivalent risk to both actor and recipient(s), ceteris paribus, an organism would only work to save 2 or more siblings, because that's the point of which the hereditary fitness would visit a net increase consequently of the action. This behavior doesn't make the gene(s) which code for it inherently selfish or altruistic. It's just the logical evolutionary outcome of genes that are selected for his or her potential to ensure their own future success and propagate in the genepool. Oddly enough, at the amount of the individual this genetically selfish drive is manifested in what we'd see as altruistic behavior.

Empirical evidence because of this theory originates from analysing the behavior of haplodiploid varieties, which are different significantly to us in genetic relatedness of kin. Generally in most eusocial insect varieties, for illustration the hymenoptera, the relatedness between mother and little girl, as well as mom and kid, is 0. 5. However, between sister and sister it is 0. 75, and between sister and brother it is 0. 25. (Hamilton, 1967). Kin selection theory indicate that, because of this genetic asymmetry, the love-making ratio equilibrium should change depending which agent is in charge, because of the turmoil of interest in which sex to rear end. Female workers would wish a percentage of 3:1 sisters:brothers, because they show more genes with sisters. The queen wants a sex ratio of 1 1:1, because the hereditary relatedness between her and her princess/son is 0. 5 in both cases. (Trivers and Hare, 1976) discovered that in most of these types, the percentage of investment is about 3:1, as the workers are mostly in charge of increasing the offspring. However there may be some variability, for example in some cases the queen masks the scent of her eggs so the workers cannot give which is female or male, in order to deceive them into raising the larvae with an equal percentage of parental investment. This provides compelling research for the selfish gene theory, as the pests are engaging in parental investment behaviours which indicate their genetic stake in the offspring - maximising their own genes odds of survival.

John Maynard-Smith (1973) uses the idea of the evolutionary steady strategy (a key idea in game theory) to explain competition between and within species. A technique which, during iterated 'games' as time passes, can't be invaded by new strategies, is known as an ESS. For instance, there is a classic game in which either side can 'defect' or 'cooperate' - known as the 'Prisoners' Problem' (Flood and Dresher, 1950), where the pay back for player defecting, opposition cooperating > common cooperation > shared defection > player cooperating, opposition defecting. In this case, if there is just one game between players, then your logical move is to defect, because this will maximise your prize whatever the other player's move. However, if the overall game is iterated, i. e. repeated over time, then there may be opportunity for ESS's to advance. Axelrod simulated this in your personal computer program with numerous strategies, and found that 'tit for tat' won, with 'reward points' gathered in the event. The strategy specifies 'cooperate unless opponent defects, in which particular case retaliate by defecting the next convert'. Tit for tat is also forgiving - if an opponent breaks a routine of defections by cooperating, it will go back to cooperating also.

The success of a strategy depends upon the types of strategies it faces, and the percentage of each relative to the others. As time passes evolutionary secure strategies will reach an equilibrium point, where oscillations between the success of strategies will be nominal and anticipated to chance. For example, if an 'always defect' strategy were to randomly arise in several tit for tats, it could quickly be retaliated against and influenced to extinction, preserving the equilibrium. In mother nature, particularly in pets with grouped social structures and territories, the conditions under which a tit for tat strategy would be successful are present. It appears logical that pets in regular connection with each other, with iterated 'games' between your same participants, would have evolved to check out the strategy. Maybe it's argued that common grooming, for example, can be an example of tit for tat in character, where both pets are 'cooperating'. If one were to avoid, the other would retaliate by stopping also. This grooming behavior is common in a variety of types, from mammals to birds.

In conditions of the selfish gene theory, Dawkins suggested that the gene pool is an evolutionary environment, in which 'good' genes (those which survive in the gene pool) are determined for. Therefore, the gene pool can be seen as an "Evolutionary secure set of genes". Through random mutations in DNA, new genes will enter the environment, and most will be quickly chosen against. However those that are beneficial to the organisms that hold them will distributed throughout the gene pool, and shift the evolutionary secure set towards a fresh equilibrium - these shifts symbolize the process of evolution. If the gene arose which altruistically increased the welfare of its alleles, for this very reason it would become extinct in the gene pool after a short while. Therefore, in mother nature we can only

expect to see 'selfish' genes which can be best at making sure their own survival in relation to their alleles - as an ESS, evolution will only allow the survival of genes which can be tolerant to the invasion from others in the gene pool, often they'll become extinct. 'Selfish' isn't used in a subjective, emotional sense - it's simply the kind of unit we'd expect to see as a result of the evolutionary process. Midgleys 'gene juggling' article appeared to imply that Dawkins used the term in an emotional capacity, which isn't what he expected.

Considering your body of an organism as a carrier for the genes within it, these genes must have improved to cooperate at some type of level during early on evolutionary history, almost 4 billion years ago. Over time through replication and environmental changes genes developed 'vessels' i. e. animals and plant life, through which they competed for permanence in the gene pool. In individual DNA there are around 20, 000-25, 000 unique genes (Human Genome Job, 2003). Therefore, an individual genes environment includes a huge number of others with which it works to code for an organism. When it comes to which are determined for and against, the genes environment is key - for example a gene that codes for a herbivorous characteristic like a very long neck of the guitar for reaching treetops, can do very poorly in the hereditary environment of any carnivores body, that the trait would be worthless (Dawkins, 1976). Because of this, this gene would be decided on against, not because it's bad at its job, or the work itself is a bad idea, but because the job it performs is made redundant due to its environment. This points out why we see organisms customized for certain tasks or surroundings, the same principles that are applied to animals at the average person level of selection can be imposed at the genetic level.

On the other hand, lethal genes exploit their hereditary environment by not exerting their impact until following the point of the organisms reproductive fertility. This effect, although harmful, could be chosen for - if an organism will reproduce before dying because of this of particular genes, then these lethal genes have been determined for, despite having been carried via their genetic environment (Medawar, 1952). Another theory suggests that over time the copying problems and genetic damage accumulate in an organism and eventually it dies of old age. Perhaps this is related to Medawar's theory, for the reason that because old age occurs (from genetic copying damage) after the key amount of reproductive success, there is absolutely no evolutionary advantages for genes that don't deteriorate and cause the organism to eventually die, no selective pressure against those that do. Therefore, the potential age of kinds remains constant. Additionally, individual selection theory can't really take into account why organisms expire of later years at all - surely living much longer would be chosen for over the course of evolutionary history. Group selection, on the other hand, points out organisms dying as an take action of altruism to save resources and space to preserve the species or group; however this isn't supported by much research and is normally dismissed as an explanation. This leaves gene selection as really the only reasonable description for organisms dying of old age.

Genetic crossing over during intimate reproduction entails a "reshuffling" of genes within chromasomes, during meiotic section, as the offspring inherits 50% of the parents Genes. In this department, cistrons are divided and changed, indicating each offspring is genetically unique. Statistically, small the piece of genetic materials, or cistron, the less likely it is to be reshuffled by crossing over, and the higher it's copying fidelity, or life time over generations. A specific chromosome will have a life-span of 1 1 generation, however the smaller the part (cistron) within the chromasome, the more decades it is statistically more likely to survive without having to be chopped and modified. If 'selfishness' pertains to the units behavior and longevity, as a function of natural selection, then your smaller the genetic unit, a lot more 'selfish' it is.

An alternate theory of advancement is that of group selection (Wynne-Edwards, 1962) which state governments that rather than natural selection taking place at the amount of the individual, or gene, it takes place at the amount of the group, suggesting that behaviours that happen to be detrimental to the average person organisms genes may be perpetuated given that it results a net improvement to the fitness of the group. For instance, one prediction is that organisms will regulate their birth rates to be able to avoid overpopulation and ingestion of resources, which is recommended that some kinds abide by hierarchies where in fact the top animals reach partner and subordinates do not, to be able to regulate populace growth, observed in animals such as hens (hence the etymology of the idiom 'pecking order').

It is also suggested that pests such as midges collect together in shows to assess people numbers and prevent overpopulation (Wynne-Edwards). If the populace is too much, resources will be disperse too thin, and the entire welfare of the group will lower. However, in light of genetic selection theory, and a lack of evidence to support this assertion, it seems unlikely that is the truth. Gathering along for population exhibits costs a lot of energy, and compromising the passing of genes through mating can't logically be determined for, even if it does benefit the kinds in the long run. These behaviours can not be part of any ESS, because they're vulnerable to strike from strategies which don't accumulate and mate regardless, both keeping energy and transferring on genes. Because of these benefits, the individuals that take good thing about the group will be preferred for and eventually increase in figures within the system, because group selection behaviour doesn't represent an ESS.

In conclusion, genes can be selfish insofar as to be preferred for as a fundamental unit of natural selection, coding for any phenotype which will enable the organism to reproduce and therefore spread copies of the genes themselves. 'Colonies of genes' which make up specific organisms seem to show the characteristics of an evolutionary environment, within that your genes must make an ESS. As such, at the amount of the organism, genes may code for evidently altruistic behaviours, such as kin selection, a theory for which there is engaging evidence, but the ultimate reason for this coding at a genetic level is selfish - it is designed to increase the success rate of genetic copies. Midgley misapplied this theory in her article, recommending that the psychological condition of man must be of a selfish mother nature therefore of the coding - 'philosophic egoism' as she called it. This isn't the case, and is apparent when one considers the variety of the phenotype as an expression of genes and environment. Furthermore, the alternatives to genetic selection have too little information and aren't as logically sound. Group selection, for example, only has circumstantial support, the majority of that can be described by other means anyways - no-one can establish that subordinate animals forego mating for the good of the kinds, it is far more likely that they would struggle for alpha male position and mates given acceptable opportunity/odds. Furthermore, the selfish gene utilizes the same basic principle as specific selection, but at most basic possible level, rendering it a preferred explanation to specific or group selection ideas for behaviour whenever we can (Williams, 1964).

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