The purpose of adaptation

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A central feature of Darwin’s theory of natural selection is that it explains the purpose of biological adaptation. Here, I: emphasise the scientific importance of understanding what adaptations are for, in terms of facilitating the derivation of empirically-testable predictions; discuss the population genetical basis for Darwin’s theory of the purpose of adaptation, with reference to the “fundamental theorem of natural selection”; and show that a deeper understanding of the purpose of adaptation is achieved in the context of social evolution, with reference to inclusive fitness and superorganisms.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20170005
Number of pages7
JournalInterface Focus
Issue number5
Early online date18 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - 6 Oct 2017


  • Natural selection
  • Fundamental theorem
  • Darwinism
  • Inclusive fitness
  • Social evolution
  • Superorganism


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