Journal of the History of Biology 46 (4):599-630 (2013)

Edward O. Wilson’s recent decision to abandon kin selection theory has sent shockwaves throughout the biological sciences. Over the past two years, more than a hundred biologists have signed letters protesting his reversal. Making sense of Wilson’s decision and the controversy it has spawned requires familiarity with the historical record. This entails not only examining the conditions under which kin selection theory first emerged, but also the organicist tradition against which it rebelled. In similar fashion, one must not only examine Wilson’s long career, but also those thinkers who influenced him most, especially his intellectual grandfather, William Morton Wheeler (1865–1937). Wilson belongs to a long line of organicists, biologists whose research highlighted integration and coordination, many of whom struggled over the exact same biological riddles that have long defined Wilson’s career. Drawing inspiration (and sometimes ideas) from these intellectual forebears, Wilson is confident that he has finally identified the origin of the social impulse
Keywords E. O. Wilson  Kin selection  Multilevel selection  Group selection   Superorganism  Altruism  Eusociality  Entomology  Myrmecology
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s10739-012-9347-3
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 53,634
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Sociobiology: The New Synthesis.Edward O. Wilson - 1975 - Journal of the History of Biology 33 (3):577-584.

View all 26 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Why Won't the Group Selection Controversy Go Away?Samir Okasha - 2001 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 52 (1):25-50.
The Evolution of Altruism: The Sober/Wilson Model.Peter Gildenhuys - 2003 - Philosophy of Science 70 (1):27-48.
Is Pure R-Selection Really Selection?Bruce Glymour - 1999 - Philosophy of Science 66 (3):195.
Maynard Smith on the Levels of Selection Question.Samir Okasha - 2005 - Biology and Philosophy 20 (5):989-1010.
Kin Selection as the Key to Altruism: Its Rise and Fall.Edward O. Wilson - 2005 - Social Research: An International Quarterly 72 (1):1-8.
Sober and Wilson on Psychological Altruism. [REVIEW]Dale Jamieson - 2002 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 65 (3):702–710.


Added to PP index

Total views
48 ( #199,545 of 2,348,974 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
8 ( #83,896 of 2,348,974 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes