Biology & Philosophy

, Volume 29, Issue 2, pp 249–257 | Cite as

Formal Darwinism

Some questions
  • Sahotra SarkarEmail author


Two questions are raised for Grafen’s formal darwinism project of aligning evolutionary dynamics under natural selection with the optimization of phenotypes for individuals of a population. The first question concerns mean fitness maximization during frequency-dependent selection; in such selection regimes, not only is mean fitness typically not maximized but it is implausible that any parameter closely related to fitness is being maximized. The second question concerns whether natural selection on inclusive fitness differences can be regarded as individual selection or whether it leads to a departure from the central motivation that led to the formal darwinism project, viz., to show that “Darwinian” evolution through individual selection leads to “good design” or phenotypic adaptation through trait optimization.


Adaptationism Frequency-dependent selection Inclusive fitness Kin selection Mean fitness Natural selection Optimization 



Thanks are due to Mark Kirkpatrick for discussions and Samir Okasha for critical comments on an earlier version of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Section of Integrative Biology, Department of PhilosophyUniversity of TexasAustinUSA

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