A note on frequency dependence and the levels/units of selection

Biology and Philosophy 23 (2):217-228 (2008)
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On the basis of distinctions between those properties of entities that can be defined without reference to other entities and those that (in different ways) cannot, this note argues that non-trivial forms of frequency-dependent selection of entities should be interpreted as selection occurring at a level higher than that of those entities. It points out that, except in degenerately simple cases, evolutionary game-theoretic models of selection are not models of individual selection. Similarly, models of genotypic selection such as heterosis cannot be legitimately interpreted as models of genic selection. The analysis presented here supports the views that: (i) selection should be viewed as a multi-level process; (ii) upper-level selection is ubiquitous; (iii) kin selection should be viewed as a type of group selection rather than individual selection; and (iv) inclusive fitness is not an individual property.



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