The rise, fall and resurrection of group selection

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


The changing fate of group selection theory illustrates nicely the importance of studying the history of science. It was Charles Darwin that first used something like group selection to explain how natural selection could give rise to altruistic behavior and moral instinct. These instincts could be accommodated by his theory of evolution, he argued, if they had evolved 'for the good of the community'. By the 1960s, group selection had a new and vocal advocate in V.C. Wynne-Edwards. But this gave critics of the theory that selection might act on groups, rather than at the level of individuals or genes, a definable target, and from the mid-1960s to the 1980s group selection was considered the archetypal example of flawed evolutionary thinking. However, at the end of the 20th century ideas of group selection re-emerged as an important component of a multilevel theory of evolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-47
Number of pages5
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2005

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2008 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


Dive into the research topics of 'The rise, fall and resurrection of group selection'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this