All For One And One For All?

Steven Pinker contemplates group selection theory:

Human beings live in groups, are affected by the fortunes of their groups, and sometimes make sacrifices that benefit their groups. Does this mean that the human brain has been shaped by natural selection to promote the welfare of the group in competition with other groups, even when it damages the welfare of the person and his or her kin? If so, does the theory of natural selection have to be revamped to designate "groups" as units of selection, analogous to the role played in the theory by genes?

Several scientists whom I greatly respect have said so in prominent places. And they have gone on to use the theory of group selection to make eye-opening claims about the human condition. They have claimed that human morailty, particularly our willingness to engage in acts of altruism, can be explained as an adaptation to group-against-group competition.

Pinker disagrees. For example, he takes issue with "the normative moral theory in which virtue is equated with sacrifices that benefit one's own group in competition with other groups":

[E.O. Wilson] apparently wanted to contrast individual selfishness with something more altruistic, and wrote as if the only alternative to benefiting oneself is contributing to the competitive advantage of one's group. But the dichotomy ignores another possibility: that an individual can be virtuous by benefiting other individuals (in principle, all humans, or even all sentient creatures), whether or not he enhances the competitive prowess of the group to which he belongs.