Carl Zimmer recently interviewed E.O. Wilson for the Smithsonian, and the conversation included discussion about the group selection vs. kin selection debate. The discussion usually centers around whether or not a group of organisms can be selected for a trait which increases the overall fitness of the group – that is, whether or not evolutionary processes can act at a level higher than the individual organism. Evolutionary theory has generally rejected this possibility in favor of kin selection, or more broadly, inclusive fitness.
E.O. Wilson, however, consistent with his penchant for stirring up controversy, was recently a coauthor on a paper which challenges this rejection, and instead proposes to completely reject the hypothesis of kin selection. This purpose is made clear in the interview, when Wilson claims that “inclusive fitness is a phantom measure which seems intuitively right but which simply doesn’t exist in any form that could ever be measured.”
While I have not spent enough time studying this debate to form a fully educated opinion on the topic, the claims by Wilson and the other authors seem to generally lack any kind of foundation in empirical studies, focusing instead on mathematical probabilities and possibilities. With something as complicated as evolution, it is rather unlikely that any process follows predictions made using mathematically simplistic models, and it is unusual to make such bold claims and reject alternative hypotheses based solely on mathematical logic.