A disagreement between the twin giants of genetic theory, Harvard University’s Richard Dawkins and EO Wilson of Oxford University, is now being fought out by rival academic camps in an effort to understand how species evolve. At root it is a dispute about whether natural selection, the theory of “the survival of the fittest” first put forward by Charles Darwin in 1859, occurs only to preserve the single gene. Wilson is an advocate of “multi-level selection theory”, a development of the idea of “kin selection”, which holds that other biological, social and even environmental priorities may be behind the process. But Dawkins is unconvinced.
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