Multi-Level Selection and the Explanatory Value of Mathematical Decompositions

Download Edit this record How to cite View on PhilPapers
Abstract
Do multi-level selection explanations of the evolution of social traits deepen the understanding provided by single-level explanations? Central to the former is a mathematical theorem, the multi-level Price decomposition. I build a framework through which to understand the explanatory role of such non-empirical decompositions in scientific practice. Applying this general framework to the present case places two tasks on the agenda. The first task is to distinguish the various ways of suppressing within-collective variation in fitness, and moreover to evaluate their biological interest. I distinguish four such ways: increasing retaliatory capacity, homogenising assortment, and collapsing either fitness structure or character distribution to a mean value. The second task is to discover whether the third term of the Price decomposition measures the effect of any of these hypothetical interventions. On this basis I argue that the multi-level Price decomposition has explanatory value primarily when the sharing-out of collective resources is `subtractable'. Thus its value is more circumscribed than its champions Sober and Wilson (1998) suppose.
Reprint years
2016
PhilPapers/Archive ID
CLAMSA-7
Revision history
First archival date: 2014-05-12
Latest version: 2 (2015-08-27)
View upload history
References found in this work BETA

View all 31 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Added to PP index
2014-05-12

Total views
302 ( #9,944 of 40,131 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
50 ( #10,514 of 40,131 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks to external links.