, Volume 77, Issue 1, pp 31–49 | Cite as

A Game-Theoretic Analysis of the Baldwin Effect

  • Graciela Kuechle
  • Diego RiosEmail author
Original Article


The Baldwin effect is a process by which learnt traits become gradually incorporated into the genome through a Darwinian mechanism. From its inception, the Baldwin effect has been regarded with skepticism. The objective of this paper is to relativize this assessment. Our contribution is two-fold. To begin with, we provide a taxonomy of the different arguments that have been advocated in its defense, and distinguish between three justificatory dimensions—feasibility, explanatory relevance and likelihood—that have been unduly conflated. Second, we sharpen the debate by providing an evolutionary game theoretic perspective that is able to generalize previous results. The upshot of this paper is that the mechanism envisaged by Baldwin is less puzzling than commonly thought.


Nash Equilibrium Social Learning Asymptotic Stability Evolutionary Stability Replicator Dynamic 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We had the opportunity to discuss some of the issues explored in this paper with different scholars in congresses and seminars. We would like to thank Pablo Abitbol, Nicolas Claidière Till Grüne-Yanoff, Tommi Kokkonen, Jaakko Kuorikoski, Jason Alexander Mackenzie, David Papineau, Dan Sperber, and Petri Ylikoski as well as two reviewers of Erkenntnis for their stimulating objections and comments. None of them should be held responsible for the ideas advocated here.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Witten Herdecke UniversityWittenGermany

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