Is Survival of the fittest a Paradox?

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In summary: The term "survival of the fittest" is an outdated conversational term that has been replaced by natural selection. It is also not fundamentally about the survival, but differential reproductive rate and "fit" in this context does not mean "strongest".
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_Mayday_
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How do we measure a species' fittness? Is it not that me measure their fittness by their ability to survive? And what contributes to its survival? Well it's fittness? I don't know if this is just a load of rubbish, but it would be interesting to know what people think of this.
 
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I think that intelligence and also blind luck have a lot to do with survival
but if you have enhanced senses, the ability to see hear smell better than other people do, and enhanced physical abilities- ie fitness- than I think that would also highly help a species to survive.

I don't know how you would measure "fitness" maybe by the muscular strength of a creature and by it's speed and other physical attributes like that
 
  • #4
_Mayday_ said:
How do we measure a species' fittness? Is it not that me measure their fittness by their ability to survive? And what contributes to its survival? Well it's fittness? I don't know if this is just a load of rubbish, but it would be interesting to know what people think of this.

Fitness is indeed ultimately defined by that which can reproduce its species. It is not limited to strength or anything else. Indeed, the point is that a creature mi8ght have one or many of an almost unlimited toolset of survival techniques.

The key element is that there must be pressure , be it in the form of predation or competition for limited resources or other. In an ideal eden where there is no pressure to survive, there is no selection process.


It is important to note that 'survival of the fittest' was a mechanism proposed in the very early days of evolutionary theory, when it was speculated that individuals of a species evolved merely due to their fitness/unfitness. This has been shown to be only one (relatively minor) factor in evolution. This was in the days before the science of genetics and mutation theory.
 
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  • #5
And the main thing is that it's survival of the species rather than the individual that matters, over a very long period of time. A 'wounded duck' leading a predator away from her nest might very well get eaten for her trouble. That's not really great for her own survival, but gives the kids a chance to get out and party.

edit: Hi, Dave. You sneaked in on me again.
 
  • #6
"Survival of the fittest" is an outdated conversational term that has been replaced by natural selection. It is also not fundamentally about the survival, but differential reproductive rate and "fit" in this context does not mean "strongest".

The only area where the term could have any relevance today is in artificial selection, where the fittest are the ones that survive, and the fittest are defined as "whatever type the artificial selector wants" when breeding dogs or cows etc.

And the main thing is that it's survival of the species rather than the individual that matters, over a very long period of time. A 'wounded duck' leading a predator away from her nest might very well get eaten for her trouble. That's not really great for her own survival, but gives the kids a chance to get out and party.

Now we are getting into multiple-level selection theory. Being a gene selectionist myself, I'm not sure how valid that kind of group selection thinking is. Although it might be other forms of selection in disguise. Who knows.
 
  • #7
_Mayday_ said:
How do we measure a species' fittness? Is it not that me measure their fittness by their ability to survive? And what contributes to its survival? Well it's fittness? I don't know if this is just a load of rubbish, but it would be interesting to know what people think of this.

No, it's not a paradox. At worst, it can be argued to 'beg the question' (conclusion is presumed in the premise), or be reduced to a tautology - empirically untestable truth by definition, like "a bachelor is an unmarried man". In other words, the notion of survival can be analytically derived from the notion of "fittest" without any need to go to the Galapagos to make any observations.

Even so, this is really a word game employed by creationists to attack the theory of evolution. It's really like arguing that the coin toss is not really random, as you can certainly predict the outcome if you put sensitive enough equipment to measure the force of the throw and other initial conditions. Well, yeah, but I still call the coin toss random simply because I don't have that equipment, I'm just making a pragmatic distinction. The same goes for the survival of the fittest. Well, yes, you can technically accuse me of begging the question, but I'm simply making a shortcut in the word game to bypass a more elaborate statement which would have to describe how mutations and variations affect phenotype, which in its turn affects the number of offsprings it produces.

Pavel
 
  • #8
Moridin said:
Being a gene selectionist myself

I'm afraid that I've never actually heard of that specialization. (I don't get out much. :redface:) I'm guessing that it's a sub-topic of genetics in general, but I don't know what it means. What is it that you do? Pre-partum genetic screening?
 

Related to Is Survival of the fittest a Paradox?

1. What is the concept of "survival of the fittest" in evolution?

"Survival of the fittest" is a phrase often used in the context of evolution, which refers to the process by which species that are better adapted to their environment are more likely to survive and reproduce, passing on their advantageous traits to future generations. This concept was first introduced by Charles Darwin in his theory of natural selection.

2. Is "survival of the fittest" a paradox?

There is some debate about whether "survival of the fittest" can be considered a paradox. On one hand, it seems contradictory that the strongest and most successful individuals or species would also be the most likely to survive. However, the term "fittest" in this context does not necessarily refer to physical strength, but rather the ability to adapt and thrive in a given environment. So while it may seem paradoxical, the concept of "survival of the fittest" is still widely accepted in evolutionary theory.

3. Can weaker individuals or species still survive in the process of evolution?

Yes, weaker individuals or species can still survive in the process of evolution. "Survival of the fittest" does not necessarily mean that only the strongest or most dominant will survive, but rather that those who are best adapted to their environment are more likely to survive and reproduce. In some cases, this may mean that weaker individuals or species have certain advantages that allow them to thrive in their environment.

4. Are humans subject to "survival of the fittest" in the same way as other species?

As a species, humans have evolved through the process of natural selection and are subject to the same principles of "survival of the fittest." However, our ability to think, reason, and adapt has allowed us to overcome many of the challenges that other species face. This has led some to argue that humans are now subject to a different form of evolution, known as cultural evolution.

5. Is "survival of the fittest" the only factor in evolution?

No, "survival of the fittest" is not the only factor in evolution. While natural selection plays a significant role in the process, there are also other mechanisms such as genetic drift, gene flow, and mutation that can impact the evolution of species. Additionally, environmental factors and chance events can also play a role in shaping the course of evolution.

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