Kin Selection and Its Critics

BioScience 65 (1):22-32 (2015)
Jonathan Birch
London School of Economics
Hamilton’s theory of kin selection is the best-known framework for understanding the evolution of social behavior but has long been a source of controversy in evolutionary biology. A recent critique of the theory by Nowak, Tarnita, and Wilson sparked a new round of debate, which shows no signs of abating. In this overview, we highlight a number of conceptual issues that lie at the heart of the current debate. We begin by emphasizing that there are various alternative formulations of Hamilton’s rule, including a general version, which is always true; an proximate version, which assumes weak selection; and a special version, which demands other restrictive assumptions. We then examine the relationship between the neighbor-modulated fitness and inclusive fitness approaches to kin selection. Finally, we consider the often-strained relationship between the theories of kin and multilevel selection.
Keywords Hamilton's rule  social evolution  inclusive fitness  kin selection  multilevel selection
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Kin Selection, Group Selection, and the Varieties of Population Structure.Jonathan Birch - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axx028.

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