The role of genetic relatedness in social evolution has recently come under critical attention. These arguments are herecritically analyzed, both theoretically and empirically. It is argued that when the conceptual structure of the theory of naturalselection is carefully taken into account, genetic relatedness can be seen to play an indispensable role in the evolution of bothfacultative and advanced eusociality. Although reviewing the empirical evidence concerning the evolution of eusocialityreveals that relatedness does not play a role in the initial appearance of helper phenotypes, this follows simply from the factthat natural selection – of which relatedness is a necessary component – does not play a causal role in the origin of any traits.Further, separating two logically distinct elements of causal explanation – necessity and sufficiency – explains why the debatelingers on: although relatedness plays a necessary role in the evolution of helping and advanced eusociality, relatedness aloneis not sufficient for their appearance. Therefore, if the relatedness variable in a given data set is held at a uniformly high value,then it indeed may turn out that other factors occupy a more prominent role. However, this does not change the fact that highrelatedness functions as a necessary background condition for the evolution of advanced eusociality.
Volume 45, 2020
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