Selfish Gene Theory and Franz De Waal's Idea

Published: 2022-12-09
Selfish Gene Theory and Franz De Waal's Idea
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Company Management Psychology United States Law
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 914 words
8 min read

Selfish gene theory affirms that adaptive evolution only occurs through the competing genes differential survival tactics which heighten the frequency of alleles whose phenotypic characteristic impacts successfully lead their self-propagation. The resultant gene is a replica of the single physical DNA bits which are adversely distributed throughout the world. Due to the secure transfer of heritable genes from one generation to another regardless of the DNA compatibility, the proponents of this the selfish gene theory argue that evolution and natural selection can be considered adequately from the gene perspectives.

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Similarly, the theory holds that most genes are directly competing for survival with their alleles for survival. This is because the alleles of the body within the gene pool are in the constant rivalry for their position on the future generation's chromosomes. As a result, any gene that attempts to show significant changes for its survival rates in the gene pool with little concern about the will of its alleles will tautologously survive (Richard, 11). The resultant forms the basic unit of selfishness in the chromosome of the future generation. This paper focuses on discussing the selfish gene theory concerning Richard Dawkins' point of view and the response made by Mary Midgley on the assumption. It also explores Franz de Waal's idea that animals can have morals and its evaluation for credibility.

According to Dawkins selfish gene is a way of expressing evolution through the gene-centered point of view, which suggests that the action of genes and their selection in the evolution process can be only be done at the level of population or organism without overriding the selection as based on the genes themselves.

Similarly, through this approach of looking at selection about the available genes, emergent behaviors are usually evident to show that alleles not only get dispersed or propagated using gene pool by assisting the live organism in surviving, but also help others to adopt the survival techniques as members of the species (Richard, 11). As a result, altruistic behavior can be concluded to be a natural result of selection, regardless of its perception among individual organism due to the selfless action among other genes in protecting themselves.

Mary Midgley Response

Mdgley's views the notion of selfishness in genes as an extreme determinism. The idea only trades on the people's simplistic notion about human motivation which can explain their behavior in terms of self-destruction or altruism which mutually exist in the gene pool. Notably, she regards Dawkins' theory of genes in direct competition as improper science which is being sold as science ((Richard, 11)). She also viewed selfishness in genes as something far from universal and explaining the appearance of behavior which is being portrayed by an individual; one can focus on the enlightened self-interest.


Although the two scientists, Dawkins and Medgley had different argument towards an individual behavior based on the gene characteristics, Charles Dawkins argument seems convincing and correct (Richard, 11). He uses the most appropriate method to address and explain the relationship that future generation can exhibit from the present ones. His suggestions are convincing, and the point of views gives clear evidence about the different traits which can be deduced from a particular gene characteristic (Richard, 903). On the hand, Mary Midgley response towards this scientific theory his not comprehensive but only provides illustration which can be used as the base of the weak argument.

Franz De Waal's Idea about Animals

Franz de Waal holds that morality is built into all animal species rather than the assumption that it comes from God or any other external source. He argues that righteousness in animals spring bottom-up from our daily social interactions and emotions based on the environment from which the animal comes from. Morality was not introduced to animal species by God, but instead, it was us who formulated it. Generally, our ways of reasoning and thinking can be traced from a long evolutionary history which can be determined from closest living relatives. For instance, the characteristics exhibited by a certain generation of species can be located from its ancient parent lineage.

Evaluation of Franz De Waal's Idea on Animals' Morality

Franz de Waal's idea is correct and valid. As a novice scientist who depends on evidence to conclude, the provisions made in Franz de Waal's idea remains to be true. For instance, the feelings which are being shown by animals that display different forms of behavior are purely embodied in their bodies. He also provided careful distinctions about animals and their responses towards thing around them. This defined animals depending on their levels of empathy towards the different situation.

Similarly, Franz de Waal doesn't conclusively equate the goodness of animals with morality but instead provides evidence that can be used to makes such conclusions depending on the actions being done by such animals (De Waal 146). He also allows religion to be used in supporting morality among animal with human beings as the focal point.


In conclusion, scientific theories are the only possible ways of reducing complex issues in the life of a human generation. It carries enough evidence which not provides adequate information but also supportive documents for such matters. Notably, Franz de Waal's idea reveals that morality of animals can be traced from the origin, not from the biblical accounts on creation.

Works Cited

Richard, Dawkins. "SelfishGene Theory and Levels of Selection." The International Encyclopedia of Anthropology(2018): 1-11.

Richard, Dawkins. "Moral of the story: combating burnout and apathy." Academic Medicine 92.7 (2017): 902-903.

De Waal, Frans, et al. "Current Perspectives in Moral Psychology." Moral Psychology. Springer, Cham, 2017. 145-162.

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