Queller’s separation condition explained and defended

American Naturalist 184 (4):531-540 (2014)
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The theories of inclusive fitness and multilevel selection provide alternative perspectives on social evolution. The question of whether these perspectives are of equal generality remains a divisive issue. In an analysis based on the Price equation, Queller argued (by means of a principle he called the separation condition) that the two approaches are subject to the same limitations, arising from their fundamentally quantitative-genetical character. Recently, van Veelen et al. have challenged Queller’s results, using this as the basis for a broader critique of the Price equation, the separation condition, and the very notion of inclusive fitness. Here we show that the van Veelen et al. model, when analyzed in the way Queller intended, confirms rather than refutes his original conclusions. We thereby confirm (i) that Queller’s separation condition remains a legitimate theoretical principle and (ii) that the standard inclusive fitness and multilevel approaches are indeed subject to the same limitations.



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Jonathan Birch
London School of Economics

References found in this work

Evolution and the levels of selection.Samir Okasha - 2006 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Evolution and the Levels of Selection.Samir Okasha - 2009 - Critica 41 (123):162-170.

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