Natural Selection and Social Theory: Selected Papers of Robert L. Trivers

By Robert Trivers | Go to book overview

1
RECIPROCAL ALTRUISM

It was the spring semester of 1969 and the population geneticist Richard Lewontin had come to Harvard to deliver a talk on a new methodology that promised to revolutionize the field of population genetics. Lewontin was then at nearly the height of his powers, and 250 people, myself included, were crammed into a lecture hall to hear his eagerly anticipated talk. It was my devout wish that he would fall flat on his face.

The reason for this is that I had just been introduced to him by E. O. Wilson, Harvard's fabulous social insect man, at the tea preceding his talk. Lewontin had at once proceeded to dump on me, a mere first-year graduate student. The previous fall I had written a very negative paper attacking the work of two theoretical ecologists, Robert MacArthur and Richard Levins, and Lewontin was a personal friend of Levins at the University of Chicago. A fellow graduate student had carried the manuscript to a conference and allowed someone to make a photocopy, and like a true pathogen it had spread rapidly around the globe. I even received a glowing letter from a well-known Australian ecologist. When I realized the manuscript had gone public I sent copies to MacArthur and Levins. MacArthur wrote a very nice letter in return; Levins did not deign to reply. Lewontin began by saying, “Oh yes, you're the fellow that wrote that wrong-headed paper on MacArthur and Levins, ” and dismissed it in a few sentences. He pointed to some equations on the board that he had apparently shown to Ed Wilson and told me that one of my criticism was easily handled if you used these equations. As Wilson squinted myopically toward the board (and with only one good eye at that!) I thought I could see at a glance that Lewontin had merely complexified the problem—thereby hiding the error more deeply—but that the same problem remained in his formulation as in the work of Levins himself. I have learned in my life that my memory of what I regard as odious

-3-

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Natural Selection and Social Theory: Selected Papers of Robert L. Trivers
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Preface vii
  • Contents *
  • Natural Selection and Social Theory *
  • 1 - Reciprocal Altruism 3
  • The Evolution of Reciprocal Altruism *
  • List of Literature *
  • Postscript *
  • 2 - Parental Investment and Reproductive Success 56
  • Parental Investment and Sexual Selection 65
  • Notes *
  • References 104
  • Postscript *
  • 3 - The Trivers-Willard Effect 111
  • Natural Selection of Parental Ability to Vary the Sex Ratio of Offspring 115
  • References and Notes *
  • Postscript *
  • 4 - Parent–offspring Conflict 123
  • Parent–offspring Conflict *
  • Notes *
  • References *
  • Postscript *
  • 5 - Haplodiploidy and the Social Insects 154
  • Haplodiploidy and the Evolution of the Social Insects - The Unusual Traits of the Social Insects Are Uniquely Explained by Hamilton's Kinship Theory *
  • References and Notes *
  • Postscript 206
  • 6 - Size and Reproductive Success in a Lizard 207
  • Sexual Selection and Resource-Accruing Abilities in Anolis Garmani *
  • Literature Cited *
  • Postscript *
  • 7 - Selecting Good Genes for Daughters 241
  • Asymmetry in the Evolution of Female Mating Preferences *
  • References *
  • Postscript *
  • 8 - Self-Deception in Service of Deceit 255
  • The Crash of Flight 90 - Doomed by Self-Deception? *
  • Postscript *
  • The Elements of a Scientific Theory of Self-Deception *
  • References *
  • Postscript 293
  • 9 - Genomic Imprinting 294
  • Genetic Conflicts in Genomic Imprinting *
  • Note 306
  • References *
  • Postscript 308
  • 10 - Fluctuating Asymmetry and the 2nd: 4th Digit Ratio in Children 309
  • The 2nd: 4th Digit Ratio and Asymmetry of Hand Performance in Jamaican Children 316
  • Notes *
  • References *
  • Postscript 328
  • References 329
  • Index 335
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