Models of group selection

Philosophy of Science 54 (4):515-538 (1987)
The key problem in the controversy over group selection is that of defining a criterion of group selection that identifies a distinct causal process that is irreducible to the causal process of individual selection. We aim to clarify this problem and to formulate an adequate model of irreducible group selection. We distinguish two types of group selection models, labeling them type I and type II models. Type I models are invoked to explain differences among groups in their respective rates of production of contained individuals. Type II models are invoked to explain differences among groups in their respective rates of production of distinct new groups. Taking Elliott Sober's model as an exemplar, we argue that although type I models have some biological importance--they force biologists to consider the role of group properties in influencing the fitness of organisms--they fail to identify a distinct group-level causal selection process. Type II models if properly framed, however, do identify a group-level causal selection process that is not reducible to individual selection. We propose such a type II model and apply it to some of the major candidates for group selection
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DOI 10.1086/289403
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