Altruism and Kin Selection

Topics: Altruism, Kin selection, Evolution Pages: 4 (1405 words) Published: November 18, 2013
Does true altruism exist in nature?
Within nature Darwin has proposed the notion of natural selection as the driving force of evolution. Individuals acquiring traits solely designed for their survival and reproductive fitness. Accordingly, animals act selfishly to survive and pass along their genes to future generations. Since then, controversy has circled around the idea of organisms acting out in a selfless manor decreasing their fitness for the success of another member’s fitness. Its puzzling to assume individuals will sacrifice themselves for the benefit of another member when Darwin’s assumptions were predominately associated with the survival of the fittest. Explanations to this issue have been observed amongst kin where family members will help the survival of its relatives in order to increase the success of the group; this is otherwise known as kin selection and is one explanation of altruism. Similarly, cooperation in nature has been viewed as a form of altruism where collaborative efforts will benefit the survival of the species versus selfish actions. A study done by Mr. Allee found planarian worms likely to survive 1.5 times longer if they grouped together under intense conditions versus groups who exhibited no grouping. Favoring kin selection and cooperation altruism enhances survival of the group level in turn leaving better fitness rates rather than individualistic behavior. But does each theory demonstrate true altruism in nature? In this paper I will present two opposing theories on true altruistic behavior in nature, one based upon alternative explanations for altruistic actions, while the other emphasizes selfish behavior induced for survival and proves altruism to be based on selfish implications too.

What is altruism? Altruism is defined as a social behavior that decreases the fitness of the actor in turn increasing the fitness of the recipient. (West). While Darwin believed in natural selection he was also aware of many functional...
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