Richard Dawkins on Altruism and the Selfish Gene [11:10]

Description

It is easy to find “nature red in tooth and claw,” but it is also easy to find cases of cooperation, social bonding, and altruism.  How does evolution by natural selection explain this behavior?  Ethologist Richard Dawkins explains how our genes can be ‘selfish’ and still display completely non-selfish behaviors between animals.  The video covers a wide range of issues in a easy to understand way.

Discussion Questions

  • Can a gene be ‘selfish’?  How?
  • What does Dawkins mean when he says we are “vehicles for our genes”?
  • How does cooperation, kindness, and altruism help selfish genes in a population?
  • What is the difference between kin selection and reciprocal altruism?
  • What does Frans de Waal mean by Veneer Theory? Social Darwinism?
  • How does Dawkins explain why we feel an urge to help complete strangers?

Keywords: biology, altruism, ethics, evolution, Dawkins, evolutionary psychology, morality, de Waal, empathy, selfish gene

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