Darwin’s Ant Problem. Group Selection in the Origin of Species

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Mihail-Valentin Cernea


This paper explores two philosophical issues related to Darwin’s treatment of the sterile castes of insects in the Origin of Species. The first aim is to review the scholarly articles on the subjects of Darwin’s acceptance or rejection of natural selection acting at levels above that of the individuals. The second aim is to see whether Darwin’s position on group selection informs in any way contemporary debates on group selection and multilevel selection. The paper arrives at the conclusion that, there is significant evidence in the Origin that Darwin did see natural selection acting at the level of the community, but it is hard to say anything more than evolutionary biology is compatible with multilevel selection if we take this point into account. Many present-day individualistic and pluralistic accounts of natural selection that seek legitimacy from Darwin’s views on the subject open up to charges of anachronism.

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CERNEA, Mihail-Valentin. Darwin’s Ant Problem. Group Selection in the Origin of Species. Annals of the University of Bucharest - Philosophy Series, [S.l.], v. 66, n. 1, july 2017. ISSN 0068-3175. Available at: <http://annals.ub-filosofie.ro/index.php/annals/article/view/242>. Date accessed: 18 feb. 2019.