Problems with Wilson's Ladder--Level 2

Level 2: IF a behavior exists in virtually all members of a group, THEN the behavior came about by natural selection.

Level 2 is essentially reductionistic, and thus all the criticisms of reductionism under the adaptationist program apply to level 2. One reductionist argument is that appeals to social engineering and history invoke illegitimate entities. However, the counterargument is that fitness maximizing behavior may become prevalent in a group through cultural transmission, without any changes in the gene pool (Kitcher, 1987).


Kitcher, P. (1987). Précis of Vaulting ambition: Sociobiology and the quest for human nature. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 10, 61-100.

Last modified May 1998
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