Problems with Wilson's Ladder--Level 4

Level 4: IF there were once individual differences in the group's genetic makeup, THEN there are differences in the genetic makeup of the present group from its prehistoric ancestors.

Evolution by natural selection destroys the genetic variance on which it feeds. Arguments about the evolution of present-day behavioral traits require information about genetic variation in the past. Regarding the heritability of behavioral dispositions (e.g., entrepreneurship), sociobiologists can play a game of "heads I win, tails you lose." If there is no genetic variation, then sociobiologists can claim that all variation was weeded out by selection for the trait. If there is genetic variation, then sociobiologists can claim that that is evidence that the trait is heritable (Lewontin, 1979).


Lewontin, R. C. (1979). Sociobiology as an adaptationist program. Behavioral Science, 24, 5-14.

Last modified May 1998
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