Weak and Strong Altruism in Trait Groups: Reproductive Suicide, Personal Fitness, and Expected Value
Economics Working Paper No. 316
25 Pages Posted: 11 Nov 1998
A simple variant of trait group selection, employing predators as the mechanism underlying group selection, supports contingent reproductive suicide as altruism (i.e., behavior lowering personal fitness while augmenting that of another) without kin assortment. The contingent suicidal type may either saturate the population or be polymorphic with a type avoiding suicide, depending on parameters. In addition to contingent suicide, this randomly assorting morph may also exhibit continuously expressed strong altruism (sensu Wilson 1979) usually thought restricted to kin selection. The model will not, however, support a sterile worker caste as such, where sterility occurs before life history events associated with effective altruism; reproductive suicide must remain fundamentally contingent (facultative sensu West Eberhard 1987; Myles 1988) under random assortment. The continuously expressed strong altruism supported by the model may be reinterpreted as probability of arbitrarily committing reproductive suicide, without benefit for another; such arbitrary suicide (a "load" on "adaptive" suicide) is viable only under a more restricted parameter space relative to the necessarily concomitant adaptive contingent suicide.
JEL Classification: C70, Z00
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation