Harvard University, Program for Evolutionary Dynamics
Abstract: Hamilton's rule is a well-known concept in evolutionary biology. It is usually perceived as a statement that makes predictions about natural selection in situations where interactions occur between genetic relatives. I will show that the "exact and general'' formulation of Hamilton's rule, which is widely endorsed by its proponents, is not a consequence of natural selection and not even a statement specifically about biology. Instead it is a relationship among slopes of multivariate linear regression that holds for any suitable data set. It follows that the general form of Hamilton's rule makes no predictions and cannot be tested empirically.