PhilSci Archive

Unexplained Cooperation

Eva, Jaffro and Paternotte, Cedric (2021) Unexplained Cooperation. [Preprint]

Unexplained cooperation_e2_names.pdf

Download (272kB) | Preview


Social evolution theory provides a wide array of successful evolutionary explanations for cooperative traits. However and surprisingly, a number of cases of unexplained cooperative behaviour remain. Shouldn't they cast doubt on the relevance of the theory, or even disconfirm it? This depends on whether the theory is akin to a research programme such as adaptationism, or closer to a theory - a set of compatible, (dis)confirmable hypotheses. In order to find out, we focus on the two main tenets of social evolution theory, namely reciprocity explanations and kin selection. Reciprocity-based explanations are extremely hard to (dis)confirm. This is due, first to the multiple realisability of explanatory processes, factors and strategies, despite apparent reasons to the contrary; second, to the high quantity, and limited availability of data needed to eliminate or back up such explanations. One of our target cases vividly illustrates these limitations. Moreover, kin selection, while relatively easy to disconfirm in particular cases, seems to enjoy a more limited explanatory scope than previously thought. Overall, social evolution theory turns out to be neither a research programme nor a theory, but a heterogeneous scientific entity, composed of parts that are amenable to (dis)confirmation and others barely so.

Export/Citation: EndNote | BibTeX | Dublin Core | ASCII/Text Citation (Chicago) | HTML Citation | OpenURL
Social Networking:
Share |

Item Type: Preprint
Eva, Jaffro
Keywords: Cooperation; altruism; adaptationism; kin selection; reciprocity; confirmation; research programme.
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
General Issues > Theory/Observation
Depositing User: Dr. Cedric Paternotte
Date Deposited: 02 Jun 2021 03:42
Last Modified: 02 Jun 2021 03:42
Item ID: 19131
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
General Issues > Theory/Observation
Date: 2021

Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Monthly Downloads for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item