Multi-level selection, covariance and contextual analysis

Two alternative statistical approaches to modelling multi-level selection in nature, both found in the contemporary biological literature, are contrasted. The simple covariance approach partitions the total selection differential on a phenotypic character into within-group and between-group components, and identifies the change due to group selection with the latter. The contextual approach partitions the total selection differential into different components, using multivariate regression analysis. The two approaches have different implications for the question of what constitutes group selection and what does not. I argue that the contextual approach is theoretically preferable. This has important implications for a number of issues in the philosophical debate about the levels of selection. Introduction Group selection and the covariance formulation of selection The contextual approach A modification of the simple covariance approach Consequences: frameshifting and additivity 5.1 Frameshifting 5.2 Additivity Conclusion.
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DOI 10.1093/bjps/55.3.481
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P. Godfrey-Smith & B. Kerr (2013). Gestalt-Switching and the Evolutionary Transitions. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 64 (1):205-222.

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