Distinguishing natural selection from other evolutionary processes in the evolution of altruism

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Altruism is one of the most studied topics in theoretical evolutionary biology. The debate surrounding the evolution of altruism has generally focused on the conditions under which altruism can evolve and whether it is better explained by kin selection or multilevel selection. This debate has occupied the forefront of the stage and left behind a number of equally important questions. One of them, which is the subject of this article, is whether the word "selection" in "kin selection" and "multilevel selection" necessarily refers to "evolution by natural selection." I show, using a simple individual-centered model, that once clear conditions for natural selection and altruism are specified, one can distinguish two kinds of evolution of altruism, only one of which corresponds to the evolution of altruism by natural selection, the other resulting from other evolutionary processes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-321
Number of pages11
JournalBiological Theory: integrating development, evolution and cognition
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Publisher 2015. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher


  • altruism
  • evolution
  • Hamilton’s rule
  • kin selection
  • multilevel selection
  • natural selection


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