[New Paper] Hamilton’s rule

Gardner A (2015) Hamilton’s rule. American Naturalist 186, ii-iii.

(Part of The American Naturalist‘s “Countdown to 150” series)

The purpose of this series of commentaries is to celebrate long-forgotten or underappreciated articles from the archive. So it feels a little odd to be providing an appreciation of W. D. Hamilton’s 1963 work “The Evolution of Altruistic Behavior,” which the Web of Knowledge suggests has been cited more than 700 times. By Hamilton’s standards, however, that does constitute obscurity. And, in particular, these citations are dwarfed by those of his monumental article “The Genetical Evolution of Social Behaviour” (Journal of Theoretical Biology 7:1–52), published a year later, by nearly 20 to 1. Some of this imbalance is warranted, as the latter article covers much of the same ground in more detail and makes a number of additional contributions. But Hamilton’s “little-read first paper” (W. D. Hamilton, 1996, Narrow Roads of Gene Land, Volume 1: Evolution of Social Behaviour, Oxford University Press, Oxford, p. 5) manages, in barely more than two pages of text, to cover the core principles of inclusive fitness theory. So I believe it deserves a second look.