Times have changed and the theory proposed in my 1983 book has had a complex journey. Herein lies some lessons about the culture and politics of science.
Cooperative interactions in nature that produce positive functional consequences, however they may arise, can become “units” of selection that differentially favor the survival and reproduction of the “parts” (and their genes). In other words, it is the proximate advantages (the payoffs) associated with various synergistic interactions (in relation to the particular organism’s needs) that constitute the underlying cause of the evolution of cooperative relationships, and complex organization, in nature.
Nature’s Magic presents a bold new vision of the evolutionary process – from the Big Bang to the 21st century. Synergy of various kinds is not only a ubiquitous aspect of the natural world but it has also been a wellspring of creativity and the “driver” of the broad evolutionary trend toward increased complexity, in nature and in human societies alike.
Can there be any doubt that ethics is a cutting-edge issue? We are daily assaulted by routine private acts of violence, chicanery and deception, as men and women (and children) make choices or act out compulsions with ethical ramifications.
Is the time ripe for evolutionary ethics? I would argue that it has always been ripe, ever since Darwin. The difference now is that the continuing progress of the life sciences and behavioral sciences makes the case more irresistible. So the proper question is, are we yet ripe for it?
Devolution is a political buzzword these days. But what does devolution mean? How can we measure it? And, most important, how do we explain it?
Robert Reid’s provocative book is perverse; he uses a semantic sleight of hand to claim credit for a non-Darwinian theory of emergent evolution. Not so.
Biologist David Sloan Wilson’s acclaimed book, Darwin’s Cathedral, advances the thesis that organized religion is not for the most part an irrational, or exploitative phenomenon, much less a non-functional cultural “spandrel”. He makes a compelling case.
Richard Dawkins ‘selfish gene’ metaphor is a one-sided caricature. Even Dawkins himself has admitted that genes must also cooperate to be successful. As Dawkins says, “it’s the team that evolves.”
Holistic Darwinism is a candidate name for a major paradigm shift that is currently underway in evolutionary biology and related disciplines. Here I discuss some of the recent developments and focus especially on the effort to account for the evolution of biological complexity – from “major transition theory” to the “Synergism Hypothesis.”