Clarke, Christopher (2014) MultiLevel Selection and the Explanatory Value of Mathematical Decompositions. [Preprint]
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Abstract
Do multilevel selection explanations of the evolution of social traits deepen the understanding provided by singlelevel explanations? Central to multilevel explanations is a mathematical theorem, the multilevel Price decomposition. I build a framework through which to understand the explanatory role of such nonempirical 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 by which one might suppress withincollective variation in fitness, or indeed betweencollective variation in fitness. I distinguish five such ways: increasing retaliatory capacity; homogenising assortment; collapsing either fitness structure or character distribution to a mean value; and boosting fitness uniformly within collectives. I then evaluate the biological interest of each of these hypothetical interventions. The second task is to discover whether one of the righthand terms of the Price decomposition measures the effect of any of these interventions. On this basis I argue that the multilevel Price decomposition has explanatory value primarily when the sharingout of collective resources is 'subtractable'. Thus its value is more circumscribed than its champions Sober and Wilson (1998) suppose.
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Item Type:  Preprint  

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Keywords:  Evolutionary Explanation, Group Selection, MultiLevel Selection Theory, Mathematical Explanation, Evolutionary Theory  
Subjects:  Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory General Issues > Explanation Specific Sciences > Mathematics 

Depositing User:  Dr Christopher Clarke  
Date Deposited:  10 Aug 2014 14:59  
Last Modified:  10 Aug 2014 14:59  
Item ID:  10939  
Subjects:  Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory General Issues > Explanation Specific Sciences > Mathematics 

Date:  12 May 2014  
URI:  http://philsciarchive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/10939 
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