Citation: Pichl, H. (1997) On human altruism and selfish memes. Oikos, 79, 619–620.

doi: 10.2307/3546907 [what’s a doi?].

Key words: Memetics, reciprocal altruism, evolutionarily stable strategy, gene–culture co-evolution, Homo sapiens.

Abstract: A reply to Tullberg & Tullberg (1996) in which I show that there is no contradiction between the finding that altruism is evolutionarily unstable, and the wish to teach altruism. As teaching means spreading memes, and a meme’s spreading ability (its persuasiveness) is quite distinct from its effects (on its bearers fitness), there is no reason to doubt that behavioural traits which could not have evolved by genetic evolution, might evolve memetically.

Full text: © 1997 Oikos. If you accept (i) that further reproduction, and all further use other than for personal research is subject to permission from the publisher (Blackwell Publishing), and (ii) that printouts have to be made on recycled paper, you may access the article here (in html format).

Response: Field has criticised some aspects (that he thought were part) of this paper:
– Field, S. A. (1998) Human altruism: group selection should not be ignored. Journal of Social and Evolutionary Systems, 21, 125–131.

Related publications: A further elaboration of this paper appeared in 1999.


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