There is widespread agreement that group selection and kin selection — the post-1960s orthodoxy that identifies shared interests with shared genes — are formally equivalent.
As Michael Wade, 2009 put it:
It is remarkable that kin selection has been widely accepted and group selection widely disparaged when, for simple genetic models, they are actually equivalent mathematically.
As Peter Richerson, 2012 put it:
I think most evolutionists now agree that kin and group selection are the same thing.
Such observations date back to Hamilton (1975). Queller (1992) is another important paper on the topic.
Modern paper titles in the area include: "Group selection and kin selection: two concepts but one process" and "Group selection and kin selection: formally equivalent approaches".
In "Social semantics: how useful has group selection been?", West, Griffin and Gardner (2009) state:
There is no theoretical or empirical example of group selection that cannot be explained with kin selection.
The theoretical equivalence of kin selection models with those of the new group selection seems to be fairly widely recognized. Wilson and Wilson (2007) seem to agree, saying:
The theories that were originally regarded as alternatives, such that one might be right and another wrong, are now seen as equivalent in the sense that they all correctly predict what evolves in the total population. They differ, however, in how they partition selection into component vectors along the way. The frameworks are largely intertranslatable and broadly overlap in the kinds of traits and population structures that they consider.
Formal models of "group selection" and "kin selection" are now widely regarded as producing the same results. Gardner and Grafen (2008) say:
group selection has already been incorporated into social evolution theory, and is found to be exactly equivalent to kin selection: the two approaches are simply different ways of describing the same evolutionary process and both lead to the prediction that individuals should maximize their inclusive fitness
Here's Gardner, West and Wild (2011):
it has long been understood that the kin selection and multilevel (group) selection approaches to social evolution are mathematically equivalent, and merely represent different partitions of the same evolutionary process (i.e. natural selection; Hamilton, 1975; Grafen, 1984, 2006a; Wade, 1985; Frank, 1986, 1995; Queller, 1992b; Rousset, 2004; Gardner et al. , 2007; Lehmann et al., 2007b; Gardner & Grafen, 2009). No model of multilevel selection has ever delivered a (correct) prediction that could not be reformulated in terms of kin selection – despite repeated claims to the contrary.
Kerr and Godfrey-Smith (2002) recommend switching between the two perspectives - saying:
we also argue that each type of model can have heuristic advantages over the other. Indeed, it can be positively useful to engage in a kind of back-and-forth switching between two different perspectives on the evolutionary role of groups. So the position we defend is a “gestalt-switching pluralism.”
Group selection enthusiast Samir Okasha endorsed equivalence in a 2010 editiorial titled Altruism researchers must cooperate writing:
Lastly, kin and multi-level selection are not alternative theories; they simply offer different takes on the question of how social behaviour evolved. Proponents of kin selection, for example, explain sterile workers in insect colonies by saying that the workers are helping the queen to reproduce, and thus boosting their own inclusive fitness. Proponents of multi-level selection argue that the workers are providing a benefit to the colony as a whole, thus making the colony fitter than other colonies. These explanations may seem different, but mathematical models show that they are in fact equivalent.
For naysayers in this area, see here.
- Marshall, J.A. (2011) Group selection and kin selection: formally equivalent approaches.
- Godfrey-Smith, Peter (2002) Gestalt-Switching and the Evolutionary Transitions
- West, Griffin and Gardner (2009) Social semantics: how useful has group selection been?
- West, S.A., Griffin, A.S. & Gardner, A. (2007) Social semantics: altruism, cooperation, mutualism, strong reciprocity and group selection.
- Gardner, A. and Grafen, A. (2008) Capturing the superorganism: a formal theory of group adaptation
- Lehmann, L (2007) Group selection and kin selection: Two concepts but one process
- Kohn, Marek (2008) Darwin 200: The needs of the many
- Traulsen, A. (2010) Mathematics of kin- and group-selection: formally equivalent?
- Leigh, E.G. Jr. (2010) The group selection controversy.
- Queller, David C. (2012) Two languages, one reality
- Queller, David C. (1992) Quantitative genetics, inclusive fitness, and group selection.
- Hamilton, W. D. (1975) Innate Social Aptitudes of Man: an Approach from Evolutionary Genetics
- David Sloane Wilson and E. O Wilson (2007) Rethinking the theoretical foundation of sociobiology.
- Grafen, Alan (2007) Natural Selection, Kin Selection and Group Selection.
- Johnson, Eric Michael (2012) The Good Fight.
- Wilson, David Sloan (2012) Clash of Paradigms: Why Proponents of Multilevel Selection Theory and Inclusive Fitness Theory Sometimes (But Not Always) Misunderstand Each Other
- Wilson, David Sloan (2012) Richard Dawkins, Edward O. Wilson, and the Consensus of the Many
- Wade, Michael J., Wilson, David Sloane, Goodnight, Charles, Taylor, Doug, Bar-Yam, Yaneer, de Aguiar, Marcus A. M., Stacey, Blake, Werfel, Justin, Hoelzer, Guy A., Brodie, Edmund D. III, Fields, Peter, Breden, Felix, Linksvayer, Timothy A., Fletcher, Jeffrey A., Richerson, Peter J., Bever, James D., Van Dyken, J. David and Zee, Peter (2009) Multilevel and kin selection in a connected world
- Bijma, P. and Aanen, D. K. (2009) Assortment, Hamilton's rule and multilevel selection.
- Breden, F. (1990) Partitioning of covariance as a method for studying kin selection.
- Wade, M. J. (1980) Kin selection: its components.
- Frank, S. A. (1994) Genetics of mutualism: the evolution of altruism between species
- Okasha, Samir (2010) Altruism researchers must cooperate