Workshop in Multidisciplinary Philanthropic Studies (WIMPS)
- Unless otherwise noted, all workshops are run in Cavanaugh Hall, Room 323A in Indianapolis.
- Workshops run from 12:00 - 1:15 p.m. Additional Materials (slides, papers) are posted to http://www.philanthropy.iupui.edu/Events/
Speaker: Mary Kathryn Coe (Fairbanks School of Public Health, IUPUI)
Presentation: “Figurines, altruism, religion and tradition in human evolution.”
You can watch and listen to the talk (but not interact) at the following Live URL if you have an IU login and password: https://www.indiana.edu/~istream/cas/ Enter section number 25397. You can also view archives there.
While few doubt that altruistic behaviors do occur, explaining why is one of the problems faced by evolutionary biologists. In this presentation I explore and critically evaluate current Darwinian explanations for altruism – inclusive fitness, reciprocal altruism, and group selection -- and then propose an alternative explanation, one that places a focus on traditions as phenotypes inherited from ancestors. This hypothesis is based on the following assumptions: (1) Natural selection selects for inherited traits -- physiological and behavioral -- that promote survival and reproduction. (2) The unit upon which natural selection acts is the phenotype, which is produced by underlying genes interacting with the environment. (3) Culture, which is learned and shared behavior, can be transmitted horizontally or vertically, as traditions. To the extent that traditions are transmitted from one generation of kin to the next and persist – for thousands or tens of thousands of years – they should be seen as phenotypes that are subject to natural selection. I draw from the archeological and ethnographic records to outline traditions that endured and that, according to the evidence available, encouraged altruistic behaviors, including generosity.