}I have heard this assertion a couple of times, and actually find }it rather puzzling just
}I have heard this assertion a couple of times, and actually find
}it rather puzzling - just how does, in your opinion, Dawkins assign
}a meaning to the term "selfish?"
By writing it in the first chapter of his book:
Before going any further, we need a definition. An entity,
such as a baboon, is said to be altruistic if it behaves in
such a way as to increase another such entity's welfare at
the expense of its own. Selfish behaviour has exactly the
opposite effect. 'Welfare' is defined as 'chances of survival',
even if the effect on actual life and death prospects is so
small as to _seem_ [emphasis in original] negligible. One
of the surprising consequences of the modern version of the
Darwinian theory is that apparently trivial tiny influences
on survival probability can have a major impact on evolution.
This is because of the enormous time available for such in-
fluences to make themselves felt.
It is important to realize that the above definitions of al-
truism and selfishness are _behavioural_ [emphasis in original],
not subjective. I am not concerned here with the psychology of
motives...My definition is concerned only with whether the _ef-
fect_ [emphasis in original] of an act is to lower or raise
the survival prospects of the presumed altruist and the survival
prospects of the presumed beneficiary.
-- Richard Dawkins, _The Selfish Gene_ (page 4 in the 1976 paperback edition)
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