Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Richard T. W. Arthur
Theories that engender fundamental transformations in our world view seldom come perfect from the outset for two reasons. First, the empirical discoveries and theoretical framework necessary for their full explanatory efficacy are often not yet in place. Secondly, as a consequence of the first, some of the auxiliary theories and assumptions they rely upon are often antiquated and erroneous. For these reasons, anomalies are frequent in scientific theories. In this thesis, I discuss some of the major scientific anomalies, including particularly, the paradox of altruism. I suggest that the paradox of altruism arises because one of the most fundamental Mendelian genetic principles is misapplied. I show that today’s explanatory models err in supposing altruism and selfishness to be genetic allelomorphs. The supposition is inconsistent with the field data on altruism, and entails a logical inconsistency in accounting for the evolution of altruism. Largely, the models that purport to resolve the paradox hinge on the conditional expression of the altruistic gene, a move which I argue contradicts the theoretical assumption that engenders the paradox in the first place. I demonstrate from the empirical data that altruism and selfishness are rather plastic phenotypic expressions of a single genotype. And by supplanting the standard neo-Darwinian assumptions with the principle of phenotypic plasticity, I provide a parsimonious account of the evolution and maintenance of altruism which entails no paradox.
Yakubu, Yussif, "ALTRUISM: ANALYSIS OF A PARADOX" (2011). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 6374.
McMaster University Library