Individualist and multi-level perspectives on selection in structured populations

Biology and Philosophy 17 (4):477-517 (2002)
Recent years have seen a renewed debate over the importance of groupselection, especially as it relates to the evolution of altruism. Onefeature of this debate has been disagreement over which kinds ofprocesses should be described in terms of selection at multiple levels,within and between groups. Adapting some earlier discussions, we presenta mathematical framework that can be used to explore the exactrelationships between evolutionary models that do, and those that donot, explicitly recognize biological groups as fitness-bearing entities.We show a fundamental set of mathematical equivalences between these twokinds of models, one of which applies a form of multi-level selectiontheory and the other being a form of ``individualism.'' However, we alsoargue that each type of model can have heuristic advantages over theother. Indeed, it can be positively useful to engage in a kind ofback-and-forth switching between two different perspectives on theevolutionary role of groups. So the position we defend is a``gestalt-switching pluralism.''.
Keywords altruism  game theory  group selection  individual selection  multi-level selection  pluralism  population genetics  trait groups
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DOI 10.1023/A:1020504900646
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Benjamin Kerr (2004). The Caucus-Race of the Dodo. Biology and Philosophy 19 (5):781-799.

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William C. Wimsatt (1980). The Units of Selection and the Structure of the Multi-Level Genome. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1980:122 - 183.
Peter Godfrey-Smith (2008). Varieties of Population Structure and the Levels of Selection. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 59 (1):25-50.
Samir Okasha (2005). Altruism, Group Selection and Correlated Interaction. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 56 (4):703-725.

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