Betere Dingen

| 08-03-2009 14:38The Selfish Gene

Richard Dawkins (1976)
Wikipedia: book, author

The book argues that evolution is gene driven, or actually replicator driven and not vehicle driven. Vehicles would be the bodies of organisms or perhaps even groups of them. Natural selection acts on genes (or other replicators), not on anything else. Since genes exert a statistical influence on behavior this explains quite a lot of animal and human behavior. The author hastens to add the we are not strictly bound by the influence of the genes and can make (ethical) choices of our own. Vehicles that can make real-time decisions are generally useful for genes as are vehicles that cooperate to some extent (e.g., as opposed to vehicles that have to evolve decisions over many years).
The 30th anniversary edition I read, comes with two new chapters that add some modern insights to the book. The first tries to explain why altruism can be in the interest of the genes by looking at the Prisoners Dillema as a game where ESS's can develop (with the famous Tit for Tat solution). The second somewhat summarizes The Extended Phenotype by the same author.

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