Sunday, March 02, 2008

The West Group   posted by DavidB @ 3/02/2008 02:13:00 AM

A comment on my recent post on Group Selection and the Wrinkly Spreader has drawn my attention to the work of S. A. West, A. S. Griffin and A. Gardner. In recent years this team and their various associates have done a great deal of theoretical and empirical work on kin selection, group selection, co-operation, spite, and related issues. On searching for their names I found this excellent web page, which provides a list of publications with pdf links. I was disgracefully unaware of this work, but am now catching up. I have only read a few papers so far, but from what I have seen I like the cut of their jib. They are working very much in the tradition of W. D. Hamilton, and emphasise that interpretations of social behaviour in terms of inclusive fitness are usually preferable to complex multi-level selection models. They also emphasise that seemingly 'altruistic' behaviour often brings direct fitness benefits to the 'altruist', and is therefore explicable by simple Darwinian selection.