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© 2021 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd Inclusive fitness is a concept widely utilized by social biologists as the quantity organisms appear designed to maximize. However, inclusive fitness theory has long been criticized on the (uncontested) grounds that other quantities, such as offspring number, predict gene frequency changes accurately in a wider range of mathematical models. Here, we articulate a set of modeling assumptions that extend the range of scenarios in which inclusive fitness can be applied. We reanalyze recent formal analyses that searched for, but did not find, inclusive fitness maximization. We show (a) that previous models have not used Hamilton's definition of inclusive fitness, (b) a reinterpretation of Hamilton's definition that makes it usable in this context, and (c) that under the assumption of probabilistic mixing of phenotypes, inclusive fitness is indeed maximized in these models. We also show how to understand mathematically, and at an individual level, the definition of inclusive fitness, in an explicit population genetic model in which exact additivity is not assumed. We hope that in articulating these modeling assumptions and providing formal support for inclusive fitness maximization, we help bridge the gap between empiricists and theoreticians, which in some ways has been widening, demonstrating to mathematicians why biologists are content to use inclusive fitness, and offering one way to utilize inclusive fitness in general models of social behavior.

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Journal article


Ecology and Evolution

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