Monday 7 December 2015

Where to look for group selection (globalization reduces the strength of human group selection)

The 'standard' attitude to group selection in mainstream evolutionary biology is that it is an explanation of last resort - which should only be invoked when the possibilities of organism-level selection (by 'selfish gene' mechanisms) have been exhausted.

But from a complex systems theory perspective group selection should be investigated, as the first line of enquiry, whenever certain conditions prevail - as follows:

A complex system can be identified when there is a concentrated and lasting network of communication-interaction between entities - when we find such a situation in biology (or elsewhere), then we may assume that we have an entity which may be selected. 

For example, such dense communication-interactions may be identified within a single cell, between the cells of a multi-cellular organism, or between the organisms in social organisms.

Therefore each relatively discrete human group (of whatever size) - where there is a much greater density of communications within that human groupings than exists between such human groupings - is a situation where group selection would be expected.

Group selection was therefore usual through much of human history when there were groups that had little or no communication-interaction between them (for example, when geographically separated, or separated by any other 'barrier').

But the strength of group selection is reduced by any significant increase of communication-interaction between groups.

Therefore (all else being equal) 'globalization' is expected to reduce the strength of group selection for whatever groups are included; since globalization refers to a significant increase in the communication-interaction between groups.

The modern 'globalized' world is therefore a world in which levels of local and national group selection has been weakened; and the most modern parts of the world are those in which group selection has most been weakened for longest.

In such a situation, it can be assumed that individual level selection will have been weakening group selected traits for several generations - with the effect of diminishing the instinctual basis of social cohesion. 

In summary; group selection is not so much a consequence of competition between groups, as it is an intrinsic aspect of dense communication-interactions within groups in a situation with little communication-interaction between groups.

Reference - see Appendix of: