Group Selection

Discussion in 'Health and medical' started by John Edser, Feb 18, 2004.

  1. John Edser

    John Edser Guest

    >>RN:- John clearly is not amused by the rhetorical device called "hyperbole". Clearly I don't mean
    >>literally everyone in the universe. I simply mean everyone in the universe with a clear
    >>understanding of science and evolution. Yes, I do personally know all of them.

    >>JE:- It's just more group selective rubbish isn't it! A larger group is NOT necessarily naturally
    >>selected over a smaller group.

    > F:- Especially when the "smaller group" is actually just a single nutjob with *way* too much time
    > on his hands.

    > JE:- Frank I am so sorry to hear that you have "*way* too much time" on your hands and this is
    > driving you nutty. Can I suggest a study of the epistemology of science to give you an
    > appreciation of what is and what isn't, science?

    BOH:- Josh - WAKE UP! And the rest of you should really listen to our esteemed moderator when he
    asks you to be polite. If I wanted to read endless bouts of insults, I'd subscribe to Hansard.

    [moderator's note: Yeah, I actually saw this and let it go, figuring John deserved one shot
    back. But now, please, people, enough slagging. If you can't say something constructive, don't
    bother. - JAH]

    JE:- I _was_ making a _valid_ and specific point re: group selection which I shall repeat:

    "A larger group is NOT necessarily naturally selected over a smaller group".

    I welcome any discussion of this point.

    Regards,

    John Edser Independent Researcher

    PO Box 266 Church Pt NSW 2105 Australia

    [email protected]
     
    Tags:


  2. Guy Hoelzer

    Guy Hoelzer Guest

    in article [email protected], John Edser at [email protected]
    wrote on 2/18/04 9:39 PM:

    > JE:- I _was_ making a _valid_ and specific point re: group selection which I shall repeat:
    >
    > "A larger group is NOT necessarily naturally selected over a smaller group".

    This is definitely true, just as larger individual organisms don't always have higher fitnesses than
    smaller individual organisms. Indeed, the only trait that can be universally advantageous (i.e., not
    contingent upon environmental conditions) is higher fitness itself.

    Guy
     
  3. << > "A larger group is NOT necessarily
    > naturally selected over a smaller group". >>

    Perhaps, but isn't the fact that the larger group has a larger gene pool to choose from favor it
    over a group with a smaller gene pool though that smaller pool has more drift?
     
  4. John Edser

    John Edser Guest

    > JE:-
    > I _was_ making a _valid_ and specific
    > point re: group selection which I shall
    > repeat:
    >
    > "A larger group is NOT necessarily naturally selected over a smaller group".

    GH:- This is definitely true, just as larger individual organisms don't always have higher fitnesses
    than smaller individual organisms. Indeed, the only trait that can be universally advantageous
    (i.e., not contingent upon environmental conditions) is higher fitness itself.

    JE:- I think it would be of enormous benefit to sbe readers if you could outline the logic as to why
    this is the case.

    Respectfully,

    John Edser Independent Researcher

    PO Box 266 Church Pt NSW 2105 Australia

    [email protected]
     
  5. John Edser

    John Edser Guest

    > JE:- "A larger group is NOT necessarily naturally selected over a smaller group". >>

    TH:- Perhaps, but isn't the fact that the larger group has a larger gene pool to choose from favor
    it over a group with a smaller gene pool though that smaller pool has more drift?

    JE:- Because one group is more variable than the other does not mean that one group has been
    measured to be fitter than the other. One group may appear potentially more fit but we are only
    discussing how actual fitness is measured in this case.

    Respectfully,

    John Edser Independent Researcher

    PO Box 266 Church Pt NSW 2105 Australia

    [email protected]
     
  6. R.Schenck

    R.Schenck Guest

    On Sat, 21 Feb 2004 06:31:05 +0000 (UTC), "John Edser"
    <[email protected]> wrote:

    >
    >
    >> JE:- I _was_ making a _valid_ and specific point re: group selection which I shall repeat:
    >>
    >> "A larger group is NOT necessarily naturally selected over a smaller group".
    >
    >GH:- This is definitely true, just as larger individual organisms don't always have higher
    >fitnesses than smaller individual organisms. Indeed, the only trait that can be universally
    >advantageous (i.e., not contingent upon environmental conditions) is higher fitness itself.
    >
    >JE:- I think it would be of enormous benefit to sbe readers if you could outline the logic as to
    >why this is the case.

    isn't the logic rather upfront? Any other trait would be adaptive dependant on the situation,
    whereas higher fitness is allways 'good'. Being stronger faster and better could but you at a
    disadvantage compared to an organism that is weaker slower and worse if its -somehow- able to be
    more fit. Its not much of a statement to say high fitness is allways good, but i think the author
    was trying to point out that, why should a large group be selected, there is nothing special about
    it per se.

    snip
     
  7. John Edser

    John Edser Guest

    >> JE:- I _was_ making a _valid_ and specific point re: group selection which I shall repeat: "A
    >> larger group is NOT necessarily naturally selected over a smaller group".

    >GH:- This is definitely true, just as larger individual organisms don't always have higher
    >fitnesses than smaller individual organisms. Indeed, the only trait that can be universally
    >advantageous (i.e., not contingent upon environmental conditions) is higher fitness itself.

    >JE:- I think it would be of enormous benefit to sbe readers if you could outline the logic as to
    >why this is the case.

    RS:- isn't the logic rather upfront?

    JE:- Definitely not.

    RS:- Any other trait would be adaptive dependant on the situation, whereas higher fitness is
    allways 'good'.

    JE:- How exactly do you measure higher fitness in this case?

    >snip<

    John Edser Independent Researcher

    PO Box 266 Church Pt NSW 2105 Australia

    [email protected]
     
  8. John Edser wrote:

    >>JE:- I _was_ making a _valid_ and specific point re: group selection which I shall repeat:
    >>
    >>"A larger group is NOT necessarily naturally selected over a smaller group".
    >
    >
    > GH:- This is definitely true, just as larger individual organisms don't always have higher
    > fitnesses than smaller individual organisms. Indeed, the only trait that can be universally
    > advantageous (i.e., not contingent upon environmental conditions) is higher fitness itself.
    >
    > JE:- I think it would be of enormous benefit to sbe readers if you could outline the logic as to
    > why this is the case.

    You need to see the logic behind a tautology? How do you define fitness? Obviously it's whatever
    improves an organism's reproductive success. Which is the same as having an advantage.

    --Jeff

    --
    Ho, ho, ho, hee, hee, hee and a couple of ha, ha, has; That's how we pass the day away, in the merry
    old land of Oz.
     
  9. John Edser

    John Edser Guest

    >>JE:- I _was_ making a _valid_ and specific point re: group selection which I shall repeat: "A
    >>larger group is NOT necessarily naturally selected over a smaller group".

    > GH:- This is definitely true, just as larger individual organisms don't always have higher
    > fitnesses than smaller individual organisms. Indeed, the only trait that can be universally
    > advantageous (i.e., not contingent upon environmental conditions) is higher fitness itself.

    > JE:- I think it would be of enormous benefit to sbe readers if you could outline the logic as to
    > why this is the case.

    J:- You need to see the logic behind a tautology?

    JE:- No tautology was proposed, AFAICS.

    K:- How do you define fitness?

    JE:- That is the unanswered question.

    L:- Obviously it's whatever improves an organism's reproductive success.

    JE:- Reproducing exactly what?

    M:- Which is the same as having an advantage.

    JE:- Fitness gain causes the advantage. Unless fitness can be exactly defined no advantage can
    be measured.

    Regards,

    John Edser Independent Researcher

    PO Box 266 Church Pt NSW 2105 Australia

    [email protected]
     
  10. Guy Hoelzer

    Guy Hoelzer Guest

    in article [email protected], John Edser at [email protected]
    wrote on 2/23/04 10:08 AM:

    >>> JE:- I _was_ making a _valid_ and specific point re: group selection which I shall repeat: "A
    >>> larger group is NOT necessarily naturally selected over a smaller group".
    >
    >> GH:- This is definitely true, just as larger individual organisms don't always have higher
    >> fitnesses than smaller individual organisms. Indeed, the only trait that can be universally
    >> advantageous (i.e., not contingent upon environmental conditions) is higher fitness itself.
    >
    >> JE:- I think it would be of enormous benefit to sbe readers if you could outline the logic as to
    >> why this is the case.
    >
    > J:- You need to see the logic behind a tautology?
    >
    > JE:- No tautology was proposed, AFAICS.
    >
    > J:- How do you define fitness?
    >
    > JE:- That is the unanswered question.
    >
    > J:- Obviously it's whatever improves an organism's reproductive success.
    >
    > JE:- Reproducing exactly what?

    In the context of individual level selection, we are simply talking about old organisms producing
    new organisms that are much like themselves (i.e., with some heritability).

    > J:- Which is the same as having an advantage.
    >
    > JE:- Fitness gain causes the advantage. Unless fitness can be exactly defined no advantage can be
    > measured.

    I is more logical for me to think of the advantageous trait causing a fitness gain, rather than
    the other way around. How could you ascribe fitness to an organism without considering all of
    its traits?

    Regarding the meaning of fitness, I have posted several times on sbe that I view fitness as a useful
    concept that has no real existence. Fitness is not an entity or a process. It cannot have an exact
    and correct definition in the absence of something real that is being described. It can only have a
    vague definition, or an exact definition limited to use in a carefully proscribed context. Fitness
    is a concept that has often been defined in exact and concrete ways for the purpose of model
    building, but we should not confuse that useful procedure with the notion of fitness as reality.

    Cheers,

    Guy
     
  11. Guy Hoelzer

    Guy Hoelzer Guest

    in article [email protected], John Edser at [email protected]
    wrote on 2/20/04 10:31 PM:

    >> JE:- I _was_ making a _valid_ and specific point re: group selection which I shall repeat:
    >>
    >> "A larger group is NOT necessarily naturally selected over a smaller group".
    >
    > GH:- This is definitely true, just as larger individual organisms don't always have higher
    > fitnesses than smaller individual organisms. Indeed, the only trait that can be universally
    > advantageous (i.e., not contingent upon environmental conditions) is higher fitness itself.
    >
    > JE:- I think it would be of enormous benefit to sbe readers if you could outline the logic as to
    > why this is the case.

    As another responder noted, higher fitness us universally favored by natural selection
    tautologically. Because the relationship between fitness and any other trait (e.g., size) is
    necessarily contingent upon the external environment, the universal relationship between fitness and
    selective bias cannot exist for any particular trait other than fitness itself.

    Guy
     
  12. John Edser wrote:

    >>>JE:- I _was_ making a _valid_ and specific point re: group selection which I shall repeat: "A
    >>>larger group is NOT necessarily naturally selected over a smaller group".
    >
    >
    >>GH:- This is definitely true, just as larger individual organisms don't always have higher
    >>fitnesses than smaller individual organisms. Indeed, the only trait that can be universally
    >>advantageous (i.e., not contingent upon environmental conditions) is higher fitness itself.
    >
    >>JE:- I think it would be of enormous benefit to sbe readers if you could outline the logic as to
    >>why this is the case.
    >
    > J:- You need to see the logic behind a tautology?
    >
    > JE:- No tautology was proposed, AFAICS.
    >
    > J:- How do you define fitness?
    >
    > JE:- That is the unanswered question.
    >
    > J:- Obviously it's whatever improves an organism's reproductive success.
    >
    > JE:- Reproducing exactly what?

    Having the most offspring. Isn't that the whole point of evolution? Then again, however you define
    an advantage - doesn't that imply that the species is more fit?

    > J:- Which is the same as having an advantage.
    >
    > JE:- Fitness gain causes the advantage. Unless fitness can be exactly defined no advantage can be
    > measured.

    Now you've stumped me. I thought species competed for ecological niches and that winning a niche was
    evidence of both fitness and an evolutionary advantage. Why am I beginning to feel like Alice in
    Wonderland?

    --Jeff

    And why do the threads in this NG not line up?

    --
    Ho, ho, ho, hee, hee, hee and a couple of ha, ha, has; That's how we pass the day away, in the merry
    old land of Oz.
     
  13. John Edser

    John Edser Guest

    >>> JE:- I _was_ making a _valid_ and specific point re: group selection which I shall repeat: "A
    >>> larger group is NOT necessarily naturally selected over a smaller group".

    >> GH:- This is definitely true, just as larger individual organisms don't always have higher
    >> fitnesses than smaller individual organisms. Indeed, the
    only
    >> trait that can be universally advantageous (i.e., not contingent upon environmental conditions)
    >> is higher fitness itself.

    >> JE:- I think it would be of enormous benefit to sbe readers if you could outline the logic as to
    >> why this is the case.

    > J:- You need to see the logic behind a tautology?

    > JE:- No tautology was proposed, AFAICS.

    > J:- How do you define fitness?

    > JE:- That is the unanswered question.

    > J:- Obviously it's whatever improves an organism's reproductive success.
    >
    > JE:- Reproducing exactly what?

    GH;- In the context of individual level selection, we are simply talking about old organisms
    producing new organisms that are much like themselves (i.e., with some heritability).

    JE:- I think you have to be more specific. I defined reproduced organisms as only _fertile_
    reproductions, i.e. I have specifically excluded infertile immatures as valid units of fitness. I
    suggest that when Darwin talked about parents raising their offspring, he was talking about the same
    thing; _fertile_ forms. Once genes were identified then surely this is just obvious because genes
    trapped within a sterile body cannot be selected for or against only using a sterile body.

    > J:- Which is the same as having an advantage.

    > JE:- Fitness gain causes the advantage. Unless fitness can be exactly defined no advantage can be
    > measured.

    GH:- It is more logical for me to think of the advantageous trait causing a fitness gain, rather
    than the other way around. How could you ascribe fitness to an organism without considering all of
    its traits?

    JE:- I can only conclude you have reversed cause and effect reducing evolutionary theory to just a
    non testable status in the process.

    I agree you have to include all traits. This means each _individual_ trait's fitness must be
    _dependent_. What must now be defined is exactly what each trait is dependent on. Remember, we are
    trying to provide the logic as to why a larger group is not necessarily fitter than a smaller group.
    We have concluded that a trait that expands a population when selected at the organism group level
    (but not at the individual level) does not necessarily provide a increase in fitness as measured at
    the _group_ level of selection. A logic must be supplied for this conclusion otherwise it is just
    pointless hand waving.

    GH:- Regarding the meaning of fitness, I have posted several times on sbe that I view fitness as a
    useful concept that has no real existence.

    JE:- If this was the case then Darwinian evolution by natural selection was never a testable process
    and no valid scientific view of evolution exists.

    GH:- Fitness is not an entity or a process.

    JE:- Fitness is just an objective count of _something_ allowing the prediction that some biological
    entity will be selected for/against.

    GH;- It cannot have an exact and correct definition in the absence of something real that is being
    described.

    JE:- Yes, fitness must be able to be counted in reality, i.e. within _nature_ e.g. not just within a
    computer simulation.

    GH:- It can only have a vague definition, or an exact definition limited to use in a carefully
    proscribed context.

    JE:- No. Only _contesting_ and _exact_ definitions of fitness allow scientific research into
    evolution. Different propositions of fitness must be eliminated by the Popperian process of
    refutation until just one exists on the table.

    GH:- Fitness is a concept that has often been defined in exact and concrete ways for the
    purpose of model building, but we should not confuse that useful procedure with the notion of
    fitness as reality.

    JE:- I agree that any over simplified model of fitness cannot validly contest and win against any
    theory that provided n objective measure of fitness in-the-first-place.

    Since you have already posted that "fitness as a useful concept that has no real existence" where
    this statement stands in stark _contradiction_ to what you subsequently wrote: "but we should not
    confuse that useful procedure with the notion of fitness as reality" then sbe reader's can have no
    idea what you mean by "fitness". How can such a contradictory notion of fitness allow you to validly
    conclude that a larger group is not necessarily fitter than a smaller group?

    Regards,

    John Edser Independent Researcher

    PO Box 266 Church Pt NSW 2105 Australia

    [email protected]
     
  14. John Edser

    John Edser Guest

    >> JE:- I _was_ making a _valid_ and specific point re: group selection which I shall repeat: "A
    >> larger group is NOT necessarily naturally selected over a smaller group".

    > GH:- This is definitely true, just as larger individual organisms don't always have higher
    > fitnesses than smaller individual organisms. Indeed, the only trait that can be universally
    > advantageous (i.e., not contingent upon environmental conditions) is higher fitness itself.

    > JE:- I think it would be of enormous benefit to sbe readers if you could outline the logic as to
    > why this is the case.

    GH:- As another responder noted, higher fitness us universally favored by natural selection
    tautologically.

    JE:- Such a view has little merit unless fitness can be objectively measured.

    GH:- Because the relationship between fitness and any other trait (e.g., size) is necessarily
    contingent upon the external environment, the universal relationship between fitness and selective
    bias cannot exist for any particular trait other than fitness itself.

    JE:- Does what you wrote mean that each trait's fitness is dependent? If so, what is each trait's
    fitness dependent on?

    Respectfully,

    John Edser Independent Researcher

    PO Box 266 Church Pt NSW 2105 Australia

    [email protected]
     
  15. John Edser

    John Edser Guest

    >>>JE:- I _was_ making a _valid_ and specific point re: group selection which I shall repeat: "A
    >>>larger group is NOT necessarily naturally selected over a smaller group".

    >>GH:- This is definitely true, just as larger individual organisms don't always have higher
    >>fitnesses than smaller individual organisms. Indeed, the only trait that can be universally
    >>advantageous (i.e., not contingent upon environmental conditions) is higher fitness itself.

    >>JE:- I think it would be of enormous benefit to sbe readers if you could outline the logic as to
    >>why this is the case.

    > J:- You need to see the logic behind a tautology?

    > JE:- No tautology was proposed, AFAICS.

    > J:- How do you define fitness?

    > JE:- That is the unanswered question.

    > J:- Obviously it's whatever improves an organism's reproductive success.

    > JE:- Reproducing exactly what?

    J:- Having the most offspring. Isn't that the whole point of evolution? Then again, however you
    define an advantage - doesn't that imply that the species is more fit?

    JE:- If these offspring are sterile so that their genes cannot be passed on until they become
    fertile, then such forms can only have zero fitness until they become fertile.

    Species are just an arbitrary grouping of Darwinian fertile forms that exist in separate evolving
    populations. Once you start talking about the fitness of a species you are making the classical
    group selective argument. Such a grouped fitness is only the addition of the Darwinian fitness of
    each separately selected fertile form within it. In this instance, a species as one unit of
    selection can only be group selected after selection at the fertile form level that exists within it
    has been completed. This means that group selection cannot contradict selection at the individual
    level since when it does so the fitness of both levels of selection must be reduced.

    > J:- Which is the same as having an advantage.

    > JE:- Fitness gain causes the advantage. Unless fitness can be exactly defined no advantage can be
    > measured.

    K:- Now you've stumped me.

    JE:- If a fitness gain does not cause the advantage then no way exists to measure any supposed
    advantage so the supposed advantage is just subjective hand waving.

    L:- I thought species competed for ecological niches and that winning a niche was evidence of both
    fitness and an evolutionary advantage.

    JE: Competition is _firstly_ happening _within_ a species grouping and not between species groups.

    M:- Why am I beginning to feel like Alice in Wonderland?

    JE:- Because you appear to be making a self contradictory argument. You have to decide if you think
    group selection:

    1) Is happening at all.
    2) Provide a fitness measure for group selection.
    3) Decide if the Darwinian fertile organism level of selection dominates the group level or
    vice versa.

    Regards,

    John Edser Independent Researcher

    PO Box 266 Church Pt NSW 2105 Australia

    [email protected]
     
  16. Guy Hoelzer

    Guy Hoelzer Guest

    in article [email protected], John Edser at [email protected]
    wrote on 2/25/04 9:04 AM:

    >>>> JE:- I _was_ making a _valid_ and specific point re: group selection which I shall repeat: "A
    >>>> larger group is NOT necessarily naturally selected over a smaller group".
    >
    >>> GH:- This is definitely true, just as larger individual organisms don't always have higher
    >>> fitnesses than smaller individual organisms. Indeed, the
    > only
    >>> trait that can be universally advantageous (i.e., not contingent upon environmental conditions)
    >>> is higher fitness itself.
    >
    >>> JE:- I think it would be of enormous benefit to sbe readers if you could outline the logic as to
    >>> why this is the case.
    >
    >> J:- You need to see the logic behind a tautology?
    >
    >> JE:- No tautology was proposed, AFAICS.
    >
    >> J:- How do you define fitness?
    >
    >> JE:- That is the unanswered question.
    >
    >> J:- Obviously it's whatever improves an organism's reproductive success.
    >>
    >> JE:- Reproducing exactly what?
    >
    > GH;- In the context of individual level selection, we are simply talking about old organisms
    > producing new organisms that are much like themselves (i.e., with some heritability).
    >
    > JE:- I think you have to be more specific.

    GH:- You asked what it was that reproduces and I answered with complete specificity in the context
    of individual level selection.

    > I defined reproduced organisms as only _fertile_ reproductions, i.e. I have specifically excluded
    > infertile immatures as valid units of fitness. I suggest that when Darwin talked about parents
    > raising their offspring, he was talking about the same thing; _fertile_ forms. Once genes were
    > identified then surely this is just obvious because genes trapped within a sterile body cannot be
    > selected for or against only using a sterile body.

    GH:- Are you concerned that I may have implied a role for the reproduction of unfertile forms. That
    would be a bizarre source of confusion that must come from an agenda that had nothing to do with my
    answer above.

    >> J:- Which is the same as having an advantage.
    >
    >> JE:- Fitness gain causes the advantage. Unless fitness can be exactly defined no advantage can be
    >> measured.
    >
    > GH:- It is more logical for me to think of the advantageous trait causing a fitness gain, rather
    > than the other way around. How could you ascribe fitness to an organism without considering all of
    > its traits?
    >
    > JE:- I can only conclude you have reversed cause and effect reducing evolutionary theory to just a
    > non testable status in the process.
    >
    > I agree you have to include all traits. This means each _individual_ trait's fitness must be
    > _dependent_.

    GH:- Traits can't really have fitness because they don't actually exist, except as abstractions.
    Aside from this minor point, I agree that the fitness of an individual involves the integrated
    affects of all its traits.

    > JE:- What must now be defined is exactly what each trait is dependent on.

    GH:- I presume you mean the fitness of each trait, which is a slippery concept for me, given the
    abstract nature of traits. Still, I will go along with your logic for now. I don't see, however, why
    this is a necessary next step.

    > JE:- Remember, we are trying to provide the logic as to why a larger group is not necessarily
    > fitter than a smaller group.

    GH:- OK.

    > JE:- We have concluded that a trait that expands a population when selected at the organism group
    > level (but not at the individual level) does not necessarily provide a increase in fitness as
    > measured at the _group_ level of selection.

    GH:- This is coming out of the blue to me. I am certainly not part of your "we" that ever arrived at
    such a conclusion. I argue that a response to selection at any level generically tends to increase
    fitness at that level in a constant environment.

    [snip]

    > GH:- Regarding the meaning of fitness, I have posted several times on sbe that I view fitness as a
    > useful concept that has no real existence.
    >
    > JE:- If this was the case then Darwinian evolution by natural selection was never a testable
    > process and no valid scientific view of evolution exists.

    GH:- That may well be the case in your conceptual framework for science, which I do not share.

    > GH:- Fitness is not an entity or a process.
    >
    > JE:- Fitness is just an objective count of _something_ allowing the prediction that some
    > biological entity will be selected for/against.

    GH:- So then, you agree with me that fitness does not have any natural existence.

    > GH;- It cannot have an exact and correct definition in the absence of something real that is being
    > described.
    >
    > JE:- Yes, fitness must be able to be counted in reality, i.e. within _nature_ e.g. not just within
    > a computer simulation.

    GH:- I agree that operational definitions of fitness surely ought to be quantifiable.

    > GH:- It can only have a vague definition, or an exact definition limited to use in a carefully
    > proscribed context.
    >
    > JE:- No. Only _contesting_ and _exact_ definitions of fitness allow scientific research into
    > evolution. Different propositions of fitness must be eliminated by the Popperian process of
    > refutation until just one exists on the table.

    GH:- I disagree. This is a completely worthless exercise for something like fitness, which has no
    natural existence.

    > GH:- Fitness is a concept that has often been defined in exact and concrete ways for the purpose
    > of model building, but we should not confuse that useful procedure with the notion of fitness as
    > reality.
    >
    > JE:- I agree that any over simplified model of fitness cannot validly contest and win against any
    > theory that provided n objective measure of fitness in-the-first-place.
    >
    > Since you have already posted that "fitness as a useful concept that has no real existence" where
    > this statement stands in stark _contradiction_ to what you subsequently wrote: "but we should not
    > confuse that useful procedure with the notion of fitness as reality" then sbe reader's can have no
    > idea what you mean by "fitness". How can such a contradictory notion of fitness allow you to
    > validly conclude that a larger group is not necessarily fitter than a smaller group?

    What contradiction? Those statements seem unambiguously consistent to me. To review: fitness does
    not really exist, but it is a heuristically useful concept. Fitness should, and usually is,
    operationally defined in concrete terms for the purpose of modeling. The diversity of selection
    models has appropriately resulted in a plethora of concrete, operational, measurable definitions;
    but none of these concrete definitions should blind us to the fact that fitness is merely a vague
    conceptual tool in the general theory.

    Cheers,

    Guy
     
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