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The Debate over Inclusive Fitness as a Debate over Methodologies

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2022


This article analyzes the recent debate surrounding inclusive fitness and argues that certain limitations ascribed to it by critics—such as requiring weak selection or providing dynamically insufficient models—are better thought of as limitations of the methodological framework most often used with inclusive fitness (quantitative genetics). In support of this, I show how inclusive fitness can be used with the replicator dynamics (of evolutionary game theory, a methodological framework preferred by inclusive fitness critics). I conclude that much of the debate is best understood as being about the orthogonal issue of using abstract versus idealized models.

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I would like to thank Simon Huttegger, Brian Skyrms, Jonathan Birch, Cailin O’Connor, Kyle Stanford, Justin Bruner, three anonymous referees, members of the Social Dynamics Seminar at University of California, Irvine, and audiences at the International Society for History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology 2015 meeting for helpful comments.


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