A Game-Theoretic Analysis of the Baldwin Effect
The Baldwin effect is a process by which learnt traits become gradually incorporated into the genome through a Darwinian mechanism. From its inception, the Baldwin effect has been regarded with skepticism. The objective of this paper is to relativize this assessment. Our contribution is two-fold. To begin with, we provide a taxonomy of the different arguments that have been advocated in its defense, and distinguish between three justificatory dimensions—feasibility, explanatory relevance and likelihood—that have been unduly conflated. Second, we sharpen the debate by providing an evolutionary game theoretic perspective that is able to generalize previous results. The upshot of this paper is that the mechanism envisaged by Baldwin is less puzzling than commonly thought.