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Unto Others: The Evolution and Psychology of Unselfish Behavior [Englisch] [Taschenbuch]

Elliott Sober , David Sloan Wilson
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Kurzbeschreibung

Oktober 1999
No matter what we do, however kind or generous our deeds may seen, a hidden motive of selfishness lurks - or so science has claimed for years. This book tells readers differently. The authors demonstrate that unselfish behaviour is in fact an important feature of both biological and human nature. Their book provides a panoramic view of altruism throughout the animal kingdom - from self-sacrificing parasites to insects that subsume in the superorganism of a colony to the human capacity for selflessness - even as it explains the evolutionary sense of such behaviour. Explaining how altruistic behaviour can evolve by natural selection, this book gives credence to the idea of group selection that was originally proposed by Darwin but denounced as heretical in the 1960s. It takes an evolutionary approach in explaining the ultimate psychological motives behind unselfish human behaviour. Developing a theory of the proximate mechanisms that most likely evolved to motivate adaptive helping behaviour, the authors show how people and perhaps other species evolved the capacity to care for others as a goal in itself.

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Produktinformation

  • Taschenbuch: 406 Seiten
  • Verlag: Harvard Univ Pr; Auflage: Revised. (Oktober 1999)
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ISBN-10: 0674930479
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674930476
  • Größe und/oder Gewicht: 2,7 x 15,1 x 23,2 cm
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 4.7 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (3 Kundenrezensionen)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 34.424 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
  • Komplettes Inhaltsverzeichnis ansehen

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Amazon.de

In Unto Others, philosopher Elliott Sober and biologist David Sloan Wilson bravely attempt to reconcile altruism, both evolutionary and psychological, with the scientific discoveries that seem to portray nature as red in tooth and claw. The first half of the book deals with the evolutionary objection to altruism. For altruistic behavior to be produced by natural selection, it must be possible for natural selection to act on groups--but conventional wisdom holds that group selection was conclusively debunked by George Williams in Adaptation and Natural Selection. Sober and Wilson nevertheless defend group selection, instructively reviewing the arguments against it and citing important work that relies on it. They then discuss group selection in human evolution, testing their conclusions against the anthropological literature.

In the second half of the book, the question is whether any desires are truly altruistic. Sober and Wilson painstakingly examine psychological evidence and philosophical arguments for the existence of altruism, ultimately concluding that neither psychology nor philosophy is likely to decide the question. Fortunately, evolutionary biology comes to the rescue. Sober and Wilson speculate that creatures with truly altruistic desires are reproductively fitter than creatures without--altruists, in short, make better parents than do egoists.

Rich in information and insight, Unto Others is a book that will be seriously considered by biologists, philosophers, anthropologists, and psychologists alike. The interested amateur may find it difficult in places but worth the effort overall. --Glenn Branch -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.

Pressestimmen

Do people help others because they think they will get pleasure from doing so (hedonism), or because they have an ultimate desire to help another (true altruism)? Sober and Wilson argue that evolutionary biology can shed light on this problem. They do not say that human traits that evolved by individual selection are hedonistic and those that evolved by group selection are truly altruistic. Their argument is more subtle than that...[This book] will stimulate thought about important questions. -- John Maynard Smith Nature Unto Others, a collaboration between Elliott Sober, one of the founders of the modern philosophy of biology, and David Sloan Wilson, one of the most creative theoreticians in evolutionary studies, wades into this turbulent stream [of evolutionary biology ideology] at precisely the point where so many other adventurers have been swept away: the problem of the origin of altruistic behavior...At first sight Unto Others appears to be a reformulation of the now orthodox view of the evolution of altruism. It is, however, a great deal more subversive than that, for, if its alternative scheme is taken seriously, evolutionary biologists should stop characterizing the process as one in which genes drive organisms to develop particular characteristics that maximize their fitness...Unto Others is precisely that combination of radical reexamination of a system of explanation, an examination from the roots, with a rigorous technical analysis of both biological and epistemological questions that we all are supposed to engage in. What marks off their intellectual production is not its ideology but the seriousness with which they have taken the intellectual project. The hinge of Sober and Wilson's argument is a rejection of the prejudice that natural selection must operate directly solely on individuals. They point out that groups of organisms may also be the units of differential reproduction...A large part of Unto Others is taken up with a classic problem in philosophy and psychology that is analogous to the evolutionary question of whether the appearance of altruism at the individual level is really selfishness at the genic level. Is human altruism really egoism, or even pure hedonism, in disguise?...In the end, Sober and Wilson are entirely forthright in saying that they have consciously adopted a pluralistic perspective. -- R. C. Lewontin New York Review of Books Elliott Sober and David Sloan Wilson are clear that there are two notions of altruism, as well as two challenges to its possibility, stemming from quite different sources, but their wide-ranging book is intended to tackle both. They begin with biological altruism, offering their own perspective on how this puzzle should be resolved, and discussing the ways in which natural selection of social structures may have figured in the history of our species. In the second half of Unto Others, they turn to psychological altruism, arguing that debates between those who believe that human beings are sometimes other-directed and their sceptical opponents cannot be settled either by philosophical arguments or by psychological experiments... Sober and Wilson offer a distinctive approach to the problem of biological altruism, one that attempts to incorporate the accepted solutions within a unified theory. For two decades, Sober, an internationally prominent philosopher of biology, has provided welcome clarification of the concept of natural selection, while, for an even longer period, Wilson, a well-known theoretical biologist, has campaigned to rehabilitate one of the most vilified views about the nature of selection...[In this book] they have considerably clarified what is at stake in the debate about psychological altruism, and have demonstrated how an evolutionary perspective might bear on it. -- Philip Kitcher London Review of Books Unselfish action is a hallmark of humanity. We may sacrifice our lives for the good of our children, for the good of our nation, and sometimes even for the good of a stranger. What motivates such altruistic acts? To a biologist, this question has two very different answers. There is the proximate answer that explains our psychological reasons for acting altruistically, and there is the ultimate answer that explains how an unselfish act increases our Darwinian fitness relative to some selfish alternative. Through the two more-or-less independent sections of Unto Others, Sober and Wilson discuss both proximate and ultimate explanations. They use both sections to also emphasize their belief in the value of pluralistic hypotheses, with natural selection driven by multiple levels of causation and behavior driven by multiple desires... Sober and Wilson...have the laudable goal of stimulating research into levels of selection and motivation as applied to humans and their culture. -- Leonard Nunney Science [A] tour de force about the multitrack selection processes that have shaped life's creatures, including human behaviour, that dispels once and for all that peculiarly mystifying belief among gene selectionists that 'group selection' is risible and unworthy of intellectual consideration... Sober and D. S. Wilson are two of the leading thinkers in evolutionary biology who have made group selection respectable again and rescued altruism and many other supposedly counter-intuitive behavioural traits, from that contortionist potpourri of selfish-genery, inclusive fitness theory and game theory...[Unto Others] is a step in the right direction towards a truly new Darwinism. -- Gabby Dover Times Higher Education Supplement Unto Others is an important, original, and well-written book. It contains the definitive contemporary statement on higher-level selection and the evolutionary origin of cooperation. -- E. O. Wilson This provocative, important book outlines an evolutionary theory of altruism, examining past theoretical problems--in particular, how to distinguish altruism and selfish (or hedonistic) motives. Drawing deeply and judiciously on research in theoretical biology, social psychology, philosophy, and anthropology, Sober and Wilson--both long-standing and eminent participants in controversies about the evolution of altruism--make two major claims: first, that 'natural selection is unlikely to have given us purely egoistic motives,' second, that the much-maligned concept of group selection--the idea that natural selection sometimes operates at the level of the group--may be a mechanism for the evolution of ultruism...Readers will be impressed by the breadth of the analysis and, especially, the extraordinary clarity of the presentation. This will most likely be regarded as a landmark, if controversial, work. It is a testament to the authors' understanding and skill as writers that it is also fun to read. -- R. R. Cornelius Choice Unto Others, written by two eminent scholars, a philosopher (Elliott Sober) and a biologist (David Wilson) who have thought long and hard about unselfish cooperative behavior and group selection, is bound to have a long-lasting and strong influence on the field of evolutionary biology...In this book, philosophical and biological discourse are tightly woven together into an easy-to-read package. The major appeal of this book to those interested in he comparative and evolutionary study of behavior centers on the broad range of material that Sober and Wilson consider in arguing for group selection...All in all, Unto Others is a good read...I'm sure all readers will come away from this stimulating book having learned a lot and having had their own views challenged by this thoughtful and very timely essay. -- Marc Bekoff Ethology

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Von Ein Kunde
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For more than a generation now, students of evolutionary biology have been taught that natural selection is a process that works on individuals. Where there is a conflict between the good of the individual and the good of the community, the selfish almost always prevails. There are good theoretical reasons to believe this should be so. Most of the work that has been done in the last century to turn Darwin's theory into a quantitative science seems to point in that direction. Individual selection should be fast and efficient; group selection slow and unreliable. Yet the biological world that we see seems to fly in the face of this conclusion. So much of the adaptation we see in the natural world looks like it benefits the community or the species, often at the expense of the individual. So the pure individual selectionists (99% of evolutionary biologists today) have had to concoct a series of excuses, kluges, and workarounds. There are a multitude of reasons! that what looks like a group adaptation is really an individual adaptation. Most of our community has unthinkingly adopted the view that the "selfish gene" perspective holds a key to understanding the "illusion" of group selection. Wilson has been working for 20 years to reform this situation, and to restore common sense. If it looks like a group adaptation, it probably is a group adaptation. No surprise here - except to that 99% of the academic community who has been raised to think that "group selection" is a dirty word - something like "Lamarckism" or "Creationism". Wilson's book is just the kick in the pants that the 99% of us need. It is readable, yet meticulously documented. Lesen Sie weiter... ›
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4.0 von 5 Sternen Hat mich nicht ganz überzeugt 28. Juni 2009
Von Lulu TOP 100 REZENSENT
Format:Taschenbuch
Das Buch besteht aus zwei Teilen, nämlich einem evolutionsbiologischen und einem psychologischen Teil zur Entstehung von Altruismus. Den psychologischen Teil fand ich weniger überzeugend und interessant, deshalb beschränke ich mit auf den ersten Part.

In diesem wird ein weiterer Versuch gestartet, die sog. Gruppenselektion innerhalb der Evolutionsbiologie salonfähig zu machen. Die Autoren machen immer wieder deutlich, wie schwierig bereits das Unterfangen ist, damit überhaupt unter Fachkollegen Gehör zu finden. Man könnte aufgrund ihrer Schilderung stellenweise den Eindruck bekommen, die Disziplin werde ähnlich stark von Ideologien geleitet wie etwa der Kreationismus. Auch wenn mir solche Kritiken insgesamt eine Spur zu häufig und vehement geäußert wurden, waren sie doch recht lesenswert.

Hauptanliegen des ersten Parts des Buches ist es, die Entstehung von Altruismus - in Ergänzung oder Erweiterung zu den vorhandenen Ansätzen wie Verwandtenselektion, reziproker Altruismus oder Theorie der egoistischen Gene - mittels Gruppenselektion bzw. Multi-Level-Selektion zu erklären. Ihr Grundgedanke dafür ist im Grunde recht einfach:

Altruismus wird als ein Verhalten definiert, was die Fitness (hier verstanden als relativer Fortpflanzungserfolg) anderer zu Lasten der eigenen Fitness erhöht. Stellen wir uns dazu zwei unterschiedliche Gruppen mit Individuen vor, bei der die erste Gruppe einen Egoistenanteil von 80% und einen Altruistenanteil von 20% besitzt, während es bei der zweiten Gruppe genau umgekehrt ist.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Evolutionary break through--why races are at war 19. Januar 1999
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This book is a continuation of those books that keep moving us closer to where we came from. After decades of wandering in the jungle of postmodernism, we are finally emerging to find our roots. This book is not for the casual reader. But it is an important contribution in understanding the evolution of groupism, why humans go to war, and why belonging to the human race is not enough to bring forth altruism. Altruism evolved as a means of group consolidation of the ingroup, and genocide towards all other groups. This book should be read along with "Demonic Males" to get a good understanding of how altruism evolved.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen The Invisible [Helping] Hand? 11. September 2001
Von James R. Mccall - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
Altruism has always been a problem for evolutionists. How does one explain a creature giving up something for another, sometimes its very life? Why, for example, will a monkey give a warning cry that alerts other members of the troop, but that gives away its own position? How could genes governing such behavior persist in the relentless competition for a place in the genome?
The kinds of reasoning used to explain behavior that is good for the group but perhaps not so good for the individual performing it is as old as Darwin. Until George Williams demolished whole classes of argument in his lovely 1966 book, "Adaptation and Natural Selection", it was common to invoke "group selection" as an analog to individual selection, and explain, in a vague, hand-waving sort of way, how altruistic behavior could arise by enhancing the survival of the herd, or school, or flock. And after Dawkins, both the individual and the group were banished from consideration, and the selfish gene reigned supreme.
Only one category of altruism has been taken as consonant with the unit of replication being the gene, namely "kin selection". This is the favoring of relatives: since relatives share genes, helping a gene-mate helps one's own genes, whether or not it benefits one's self. Yet much altruism in nature goes unexplained by kin selection. Think of the soldier who falls on the hand grenade so his (unrelated) buddies can live. There are many more examples from the lives of many creatures, most of whom never saw a war movie. How does one explain the clear patterns of altruistic behavior in animals at all levels of consciousness and cuddliness? Wilson, a biologist, and Sober, a philosopher, dare to think the unthinkable, or at least the unfashionable: is it possible that individuals or groups really do play a replicator role in evolution? They believe that group selection deserves another chance, but this time more rigorously specified.
I was very impressed with the first half of the book, in which they justify a group-selection model for adaptive evolution that can explain a persistent strain of altruism. What they show is that selection can take place at the level of a group of individuals in many more sorts of situations than were thought possible. (A nice bonus of this approach is that kin selection can be explained more simply using this more general context of the group.) Groups, however ephemeral, do have a role to play in selection.
The second half of the book is less convincing, as it involves psychological and philosophical arguments for "psychological altruism" in humans (that is, you not only behave unselfishly, but "want" to behave unselfishly), which, by its very nature, is hard (or very hard) to tease out in experiments, or to introspect to. However, the authors are reasonably convincing that nature would most likely not employ some Rube Goldberg-type of mental devices that depended on hedonism (pleasure-and-pain-driven behavior) to accomplish important tasks, such as child-rearing, but rather build in directly the mechanism to make a parent care to care for its child. In that way, the care of its child would be a primary motivation, rather than an intrumental one (sorry about the jargon!) on the way to getting pleasure or avoiding pain. Parents will find this convincing, as the desire to take care of one's children seems not to depend on how much we "enjoy" doing it.
This book is detailed, conscientious and well-written, but it covers a lot of ground and many of its arguments, especially in the second part, are subtle. So I recommend reading it more than once: this is contentious material. While the authors do not make anything of the political and social implications of their work, these are always waiting in the wings. Altruism, after all, is in direct opposition to selfishness. Many people see in this a political point, and a social point. Those issues are not properly a part of such a work, but do give great interest to its arguments and conclusions. And whether or not its conclusions finally survive intact, this book's arguments and approach seem exemplary and fruitful.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen An antidote to what we've been taught about group selection 18. Juli 1998
Von Ein Kunde - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
For more than a generation now, students of evolutionary biology have been taught that natural selection is a process that works on individuals. Where there is a conflict between the good of the individual and the good of the community, the selfish almost always prevails. There are good theoretical reasons to believe this should be so. Most of the work that has been done in the last century to turn Darwin's theory into a quantitative science seems to point in that direction. Individual selection should be fast and efficient; group selection slow and unreliable. Yet the biological world that we see seems to fly in the face of this conclusion. So much of the adaptation we see in the natural world looks like it benefits the community or the species, often at the expense of the individual. So the pure individual selectionists (99% of evolutionary biologists today) have had to concoct a series of excuses, kluges, and workarounds. There are a multitude of reasons! that what looks like a group adaptation is really an individual adaptation. Most of our community has unthinkingly adopted the view that the "selfish gene" perspective holds a key to understanding the "illusion" of group selection. Wilson has been working for 20 years to reform this situation, and to restore common sense. If it looks like a group adaptation, it probably is a group adaptation. No surprise here - except to that 99% of the academic community who has been raised to think that "group selection" is a dirty word - something like "Lamarckism" or "Creationism". Wilson's book is just the kick in the pants that the 99% of us need. It is readable, yet meticulously documented. He traces the history of our prejudice against group selection, and exposes the faulty logic in those kluges and workarounds. Group selection really is necessary to explain what we observe in nature. Then, he goes on to offer us the th! eoretical foundation we need to make group selection plausi! ble. There are mechanisms overlooked by the quantitative theorists that make group selection a far more viable process than they give it credit for. If you're a lay person, you may think "of course - what's the big deal." But if you're an academic evolutionist educated in the last 30 years, you need this book; your thinking about altruism and fitness of communities will be changed forever. All this is in the first half of the book. The second half, presumably contributed by Sober, is much less focused and scientific, more apt to dwell on definitions and philosophical distinctions. The attempt to connect the sound conclusions of the book's first half to attitudes about human cultures is both more speculative and somehow less ambitious and important than the book's first half.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Altruism Has Biological Underpinnings 14. April 2005
Von D. S. Heersink - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
Is there empirical, biological, and evolutionary justification that mankind acts with unselfish behavior? The authors approach the subject of human altruism and the biological advantages of multilevel (group) selection vis-a-vis human egoism, hedonism, anti-functionalism, and individual functionalism from an interdisciplinary, but primarily evolutionary, approach.

The first half of the book deals with biology, genetics, and anthropology that provide the empirical grounds and logical inferences for believing that multi-level functionalism (groups and stratification) as opposed to individual-only and anti-functionalism evolved through natural selection by rewarding the fittest group selection, social norms, group adaptation, and cultural evolution, just as it rewards the fittest individual. Ergo, just as natural selection favors the fittest individuals, so it favors those individuals who cooperate in the traits of the fittest groups that survive over many generations.

The second section of the book takes the multi-level functionalism and altruism of the first half and evaluates arguments for and against it from psychological, motivational, and philosophical perspectives. While largely armchair speculation (due to lack of empirical studies confined to products of evolution rather than the actual process of evolution), the authors conclude again that natural selection again favors the fittest group, multi-level functionalism, and altruism over egoism, hedonism, selfishness, and individual selection only.

The authors' evidence and arguments are elegant, persuasive, and rigorous, but as the authors admit, much of the arguments are speculative, as no large scale studies have been done to prove or disprove their theses, because the whole subject had been largely abandoned for decades. Still, the cogent and coherent arguments make a convincing case for the rehabilitation of group-altruistic natural selection that is every bit as effectual as individual-selfish natural selection, just as Darwin presciently observed in the "Descent of Man." The conclusion is that mankind is naturally disposed by evolution to work altruistically in groups and that certain groups adapt to their environment better than others increases the significance of natural selection of the group as well as the individual. What the authors prove is that we can no longer ignore group dynamics in the evolutionary process. Altruism benefits both the individual and the group in natural selection. Highly recommended.
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4.0 von 5 Sternen good science swamped by storytelling 28. April 2005
Von Francis F. Kilkenny - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch
I am speaking from the point of view of graduate student studying evolutionary biology.

The first section of this book is one of the clearest written accounts of group selection theory. Group level selection happens when traits are selected BECAUSE they are helpful to that group (usually a group of organisms, but some point out that individuals themselves are groups of cells). Sometimes this level of selection can be antagonistic to traits selected for at the individual level. It is well known that genetic inheritance passes through individuals. Hence the reason why existence of altruism, where an individual sacrifices its fitness for the good of group, is such a controversial topic. Of specific importance to this topic is Wilson and Sober's presentation of the Price equation, which outlines the neccessary states for group level selection to occur. Essentially, variation BETWEEN groups must be greater than variation WITHIN groups. This equation is elegant and fundamentaly irrefutable. Another important topic that Wilson and Sober present in this section is the averaging fallacy, averaging out fitness without regard to group structure. People have used this type of averaging to say that because indivduals do better when they help their group that selection is really happening at the individual level. The use of this average DOES say that those individuals are more fit but it DOES NOT say anying about levels of selection, because the averaging method ignores group structure from the outset and thus excludes the possibility that group selection could explain the results!

As the above comments reflect, Wilson and Sober have gathered together a very comprehensive set of solid theory on levels of selection. Where the book goes wrong is when Wilson and Sober start telling stories (after having promised not to do exactly that). The last two chapters of the first section deal with cultural inheritance, and such things the low cost of punishment within a group. The book degenerates severely from there in terms of scientific quality, and relies on anecdotal evidence (stories). Some of this is fun to think about, but it should be taken with many grains of salt.

Overall, Wilson and Sober have presented and communicated a set contemporary work that shows very clearly that group level selection can and probably does occur. Unfortunately, they have muddied this important contribution by trying to overreach their thesis by creating too tenuous a link between altruism based on genetic inheritence and human culture, and then using human culture as a metaphor for the evolution of altuism in other organisms. Read this book for the real and important contributions, but read it critically and do not swallow every argument whole. As John Maynard Smith said of the book, "to do so would be disaterous."
5.0 von 5 Sternen Great book! group selection and multi-level selection plus interaction of these mechanisms and human evolution 16. Juli 2014
Von Nathan R. - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
I had been skeptical of group selection for a number of reasons, though I always respected DS wilson and E Sobers tireless efforts to maintain the argument. I was even critical of the evolution of Myxoma virulence as a case study of group selection. However, After having spent the last 7 months reexamining the idea, I am now quite comfortable with it and appreciate Wilson and Sober for continuing to maintain a precise, informed, and very disciplined discourse about this idea that elicits far more gut-level antagonism than it deserves.
Of all the materials that I examined (books and journal articles) This book represents the best treatment of the history and underlying ideas while also pointing out some of the reasons for us to give a hoot; namely, that group selection and individual selection together provide reasonable explanations for alot of the phenomena that occur in human societies. They title it unto others, I would call it us and them.
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