Cooperation in evolutionary context

The evolution of cooperation in organisms of varying degrees of complexity. Group selection, kin selection, eusociality, miscellaneous other mechanisms.

Brian McGill’s parable of the hens, based on Muir and Craig (1998), a.k.a. putting the “coop” in “cooperation”.

High productivity egg-laying is associated with aggression — indeed the highest egg layers are basically the ones that beat up the other hens in the coop with them and capture the most resources. […]

Then in the 1980s people got the idea to use group selection. Instead of picking individuals that were most productive, they selected entire hen houses that were most productive to produce the next generation

Kevin Simler, The Leaning Tower of Morality:

The only way to get group selection to work out, mathematically, is under very specific conditions. (1) Groups have to be fairly isolated from each other, enough that sociopaths can’t jump freely from group to group. And (2) they need enough time in isolation to allow group-level advantages to produce demographic gains. However, (3) the groups also need to come together periodically to remix their members. This all hinges on Simpson’s paradox, and you can read more about it here and here.


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