Social Psychology And Altruism
Altruism does not agree with Darwinism, however is there some basis in socail psychology for the theory.
Why do elder horses protect the foals despite the fact that they are often not related? Why do baboon troops put the young baboon males in the front to protect the group from predators? Why do young men go to the front to save their country from war? The traits described above are forms of altruism. Individuals sacrificing their own fitness to protect that of others. Yet when you look at it in the Darwin evolutionary scheme of things, why would this occur? Wouldn’t these genes be weeded out over time?
Are the armies of warriors, or the honey bees which sting once and die, the exceptions to the rule? Or do the define the norm. If someone is unselfish, and has this gene, they will die, thus not passing it on. However, with the honey bee, the soldiers do not have the capability to reproduce in any case.
Why do the elder horses protect other’s offspring? This represents a theory known as inclusive fitness. Although the foals may not be directly related to the elders, chances are that they are indirectly related and contain some of the elder’s genes.
When a population increases to a number larger than the ideal, the fertility of it’s members decreases drastically and the mortality increases. Conservationists look at this as an internal evolutionary counter which automatically turns off and on fertility without taking the surroundings into account. However, consider it, if you live in the over-populated ghetto, you have a higher chance of dying than living in the barren fields of Switzerland. There are multiple factors which control a population.
There are societal, biological, and environmental difference which control how a group acts upon its surroundings. Fertility, and mortality are over-determined, they can not be attributed to any single circumstance. Just because one species acts a certain way, we can not generalize to say that all species are altruistic due to an alternative evolutionary practice. Darwin’s theory of evolution has held up as the model for many years, but without further studying, we can not proclaim that humans, or any other animals, are altruistic by nature.