David Sloan Wilson
Society has been metaphorically compared to a single organism throughout history, but can this comparison be taken seriously as a scientific hypothesis? Recent developments in evolutionary biology suggest that it can. Professor Wilson will review the history of thinking on groups in both biology and the social sciences and why the organismic concept of groups has received new life, despite widespread rejection during the second half of the 20th century. The general concepts are relevant to all groups in humans and other species, but the focus will be on religion, whose members frequently describe their communities as single organisms.