, Volume 27, Issue 2, pp 299-312
Date: 15 Mar 2011

Groups, individuals, and evolutionary restraints: the making of the contemporary debate over group selection

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Introduction: a puzzle about the group selection debate

There is now a standard history of the group selection debate: Darwin considered something like group selection to explain cooperation in humans and social insects, but didn’t really invest in the idea; Kropotkin and Huxley had an involved debate that was thickly ideological; W. C. Allee and others at Chicago carried on for Kropotkin, sharing his preference for cooperation over competition; V. C. Wynne-Edwards started a cascade of events in 1962 that led first to powerful criticisms of group selection from G. C. Williams and John Maynard Smith and then finally to the end of the debate with the advent of Hamilton’s (1964) inclusive fitness theory and the rise of sociobiology in the mid-1970s; those who reject Hamilton’s rule as settling the matter do so because of a sentimental and unscientific bent: though “Hamilton’s Rule…is as fundamental to evolutionary biology as Newton’s laws of motion are to physics” some “cannot accept that ...