selfish genes: give Dawkins due credit

Xuhua Xia xia at hardy.u.washington.edu
Wed Feb 24 21:46:03 EST 1993


I think it important to draw a difference between Dawkins and other 
people such as Hamilton, Williams and others. The Selfish Gene is not
just about genes. I think that the book is promoting a world view, and
this is also what many of Dawkins' critics perceive. I do not know
Gould personally, but I believe that he also perceive the Selfish
Gene as promoting a world view. Such a world view has the potential
to be exploited by Social Darwinists, just as population genetics was
once exploited by poeple favouring eugenics.

I am not sure if we need Darwinism to justify social unequality or 
evolutionary theory to justify selfishness. Many good things in
our culture are not rational or scientific, but we need them. Biologists
should remain biologists. We are naive when we go beyond.

If we need to assign any credit, then Dawkins is certainly the first
to prosent the Selfish Gene as a world view.

I am not particularly certain about my own position. I found Dawkins'
writings fascinating, but I found the writing of his critics 
fascinating as well. I believe that the controversy cannot be 
resolved by biologists.

X. Xia



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