Cell-Gazing Into the Future: What Genes, Homo heidelbergensis , and Punishment Tell Us About Our Adaptive Capacity
If we wish to understand how our species can adapt to the coming tide of environmental change, then understanding how we have adapted throughout the course of evolution is vital. Evolutionary biologists have been exploring these questions in the last forty years, establishing a solid record of evidence that conventional, individual-based models of natural selection are insufficient in explaining social evolution. More recently, this work has supported a growing consensus that our evolution, in which we have expressed extra-ordinary adaptive capacities, can best be explained by “Multi-level Selection”, a theory that includes the influence of both genes and culture to support unique adaptive capacities premised on pro-social behaviours and group selection, not individual-level competition for survival. Applying this scholarship to contemporary concerns about adapting to environmental change may be quite fruitful for identifying sources of vulnerability and adaptive capacity, thereby informing efforts to enhance the likelihood for sustainable futures. Doing so, however, requires that we bridge the gap between evolutionary biology, and the social sciences study of sustainability.
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