Published online by Cambridge University Press: 01 January 2022
This article is about the analogy between inclusive fitness and utility. In behavioral ecology, it is often assumed that individual organisms behave as if they were “striving” to maximize their inclusive fitness—a measure analogue to the kind of utility function that is used to represent the preferences of rational agents. Here, I explore some conceptual puzzles related to this view and question whether the kind of biological utility posited by the advocates of the “maximizing agent analogy” can be adequately interpreted in inclusive fitness terms.
I am very grateful to Samir Okasha for helpful conversations during the preparation of the manuscript. I also thank an anonymous referee for extensive discussion and comments. This work was supported by the Fond National de la Recherche Scientifique.