Social evolution and strategic thinking

Biology and Philosophy 26 (5):697-715 (2011)
Thinking about organisms as if they were rational agents which could choose their own phenotypic traits according to their fitness values is a common heuristic in the field of evolutionary theory. In a 1998 paper, however, Elliott Sober has emphasized several alleged shortcomings of this kind of analogical reasoning when applied to the analysis of social behaviors. According to him, the main flaw of this heuristic is that it proves to be a misleading tool when it is used for predicting the evolution of cooperation. Here, I show that these charges raised against the heuristic use of this analogy are misguided. I argue, contra Sober, that such a heuristic turns out to be a perfect predictive tool in all relevant contexts where cooperation can at least evolve. Moreover, I argue that it constitutes a powerful and sufficient methodological framework for the analysis of social evolution
Keywords Philosophy   Evolutionary Biology   Philosophy of Biology
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s10539-011-9276-0
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history
Request removal from index
Download options
Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 26,167
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
The Foundations of Statistics.Leonard J. Savage - 1954 - Wiley Publications in Statistics.
Evolution and the Levels of Selection.Samir Okasha - 2006 - Oxford University Press.
The Logic of Decision.Richard Jeffrey - 1965 - University of Chicago Press.

View all 12 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Robust Processes and Teleological Language.Jonathan Birch - 2012 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 3 (3):299-312.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Adaptationism: Hypothesis or Heuristic? [REVIEW]David Resnik - 1996 - Biology and Philosophy 12 (1):39-50.
The Evolution of Technical Competence: Economic and Strategic Thinking.Ben Jeffares - 2010 - ASCS09: Proceedings of the 9th Conference of the Australasian Society for Cognitive Science.
Modeling Social and Evolutionary Games.Angela Potochnik - 2012 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 43 (1):202-208.
The Rise and Fall of the Adaptive Landscape?Anya Plutynski - 2008 - Biology and Philosophy 23 (5):605-623.
New Thinking, Innateness and Inherited Representation.Nicholas Shea - 2012 - Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 367:2234-2244.
Sober on Intelligent Design. [REVIEW]Sahotra Sarkar - 2011 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 83 (3):683-691.
Mind Reading, Deception and the Evolution of Kantian Moral Agents.Alejandro Rosas - 2004 - Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 34 (2):127–139.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

26 ( #191,886 of 2,153,331 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

1 ( #399,611 of 2,153,331 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.

Other forums