Peace and Consequences

Peter R. Killen


The level at which Darwinian evolution acts - the gene, the phenotype/individual, or the species - remains an issue of controversy, with proponents for each of those levels (Kincaid, 1986; Dawkins, 1976; Sober, 1984). The arguments largely concern the proper unit for analysis of the selection of new genotypes. There is less controversy that selection per se is operative on many levels. The most important type of selection, because it is the mechanism for a feedback loop that generates creative new variants, is "selection by consequences". Skinner (1981) noted that this evolutionary principle operates at three levels: natural selection of organisms, reinforcement of the responses of organisms, and evolution of cultural practices (the responses of groups of organisms). This paper addresses the issue of selection for peace at each of those levels.

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