Inclusive fitness theory as scientific revolution: a commentary on Futuyma

Antonio Rodrigues, Andy Gardner

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Futuyma reviews what he suggests are the main controversies to have gripped the field of evolutionary biology since the time of the Modern Synthesis. He argues that although some of these developments have led to significant and lasting insights (and he names the neutral theory as having been the most important in this respect), none have amounted to an actual revolution in the sense of the “overturning of a former verity”. Futuyma then considers the call for an Extended Evolutionary Synthesis, and he argues that this is, in effect, already underway, though only as part of the normal evolution of our field, which proceeds by building upon—rather than rejecting—that which has come before. We fully agree with Futuyma's assessment of the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis. However, we disagree with his suggestion that there have been no revolutions within evolutionary biology since the time of the Modern Synthesis. We contend that the explosive and far-reaching growth of inclusive-fitness theory represents a major revolution in evolutionary understanding. Indeed, the inclusive-fitness revolution has involved the only revision to the core logic of Darwinism since the 1850s—let alone the 1950s. And its ramifications certainly far surpass those of the neutral theory.
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 pages5
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
  • Appearance of design
  • Darwinism
  • Natural selection
  • Research programs
  • Scientific revolutions


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