Inclusive fitness: a scientific revolution

Antonio Rodrigues, Andy Gardner

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Proponents of the “Extended Evolutionary Synthesis” argue that the current state of evolutionary biology departs from what was established in Modern Synthesis to such a degree that a new synthesis is needed. They present a “laundry list” of complaints concerning the core focus and assumptions of the Modern Synthesis and argue that the perspective of evolutionary biology must be shifted and these core assumptions relaxed in order to incorporate a plethora of new evolutionary factors. However, we contend that this revolution is already well underway, in the form of the inclusive-fitness research programme. We provide an overview of the inclusive-fitness revolution, charting its origins, explaining its core concepts and outlook, and describing the ways in which it has developed into a fully fledged and extraordinarily productive programme of scientific research. We then consider the apparently neglected processes and perspectives from an inclusive-fitness viewpoint. We conclude that progress in evolutionary theory is facilitated by focusing research attention on areas where there is a relatively poor fit between theoretical predictions and empirical observations, rather than complexifying models in pursuit of extra realism for its own sake.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEvolutionary biology
Subtitle of host publicationcontemporary and historical reflections upon core theory
EditorsThomas Dickins, Benjamin Dickins
Place of PublicationCham
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9783031220289
ISBN (Print)9783031220272, 9783031220302
Publication statusPublished - 9 Mar 2023

Publication series

NameEvolutionary biology – new perspectives on its development
ISSN (Print)2524-7751
ISSN (Electronic)2524-776X


  • Adaptationism
  • Causation
  • Darwinism
  • Evolutionary processes
  • Extended evolutionary synthesis
  • Genes in conflict
  • Group selection
  • Kin selection
  • Levels of selection
  • Maximisation principle
  • Modern synthesis
  • Organismal design
  • Predictive power
  • Research programme
  • Systems of inheritance


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