Biology and Philosophy

, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 445–461 | Cite as

The concept of group heritability

  • Samir Okasha


This paper investigates the role of the concept of group heritability in group selection theory, in relation to the well-known distinction between ‘type 1’ and ‘type 2’ group selection (‘GS1’ and ‘GS2’). I argue that group heritability is required for the operation of GS1 but not GS2, despite what a number of authors have claimed. I offer a numerical example of the evolution of altruism in a multi-group population which demonstrates that a group heritability coefficient of zero is perfectly compatible with the successful operation of group selection in the GS2 sense. A diagnosis of why group heritability has wrongly been regarded as necessary for GS2 is suggested.

Altruism Group selection Heritability Levels of selection 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Samir Okasha
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.University of YorkUK
  2. 2.Instituto de Investigaciones FilosoficasUniversidad Nacional Autonoma de MéxicoMexico

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