Philosophy of Selection: Units and Levels

Abstract

A hierarchical approach to natural selection picks out the levels and units of biological organization that causally interact with the selective environment leading to differential reproduction.

Keywords: units of selection; levels of selection; genic selection; hierarchical selection

Further Reading

Beatty J (1980) What's wrong with the received view of evolutionary theory? In: Asquith PD and Giere RN (eds), PSA 1980, vol. 2, pp. 397–426. East Lansing, MI: Philosophy of Science Association.

Brandon RN (1978) Adaptation and evolutionary theory. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 9: 181–206.

Brandon RN (1982) The levels of selection. In: Asquith P and Nickles T (eds) PSA 1982, vol. 1, pp. 315–323. East Lansing, MI: Philosophy of Science Association

Brandon RN (1985) Adaptation explanations: Are adaptations for the good of replicators or interactors? In: Weber B and Depew D (eds) Evolution at a Crossroads: The New Biology and the New Philosophy of Science, pp. 81–96. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Brandon RN (1988) The levels of selection: A hierarchy of interactors. In: Plotkin H (ed.) The Role of Behavior in Evolution, pp. 51–71. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Brandon RN (1990) Adaptation and Environment. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Brandon RN, Antonovics J, Burian R et al. (1994) Discussion: Sober on Brandon on screening‐off and the levels of selection. Philosophy of Science 61: 475–486.

Buss LW (1987) The Evolution of Individuality. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Darwin C (1859) On the Origin of Species. London: John Murray.

Darwin C (1871) The Descent of Man. London: John Murray.

Dawkins R (1976) The Selfish Gene. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Dawkins R (1982) Replicators and vehicles. In: King's College Sociobiology Group (eds) Current Problems in Sociobiology, pp. 45–64. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Doolittle WF and Sapienza C (1980) Selfish genes, the phenotype paradigm and genome evolution. Nature 284: 601–603.

Griesemer J (2000) Reproduction and the reduction of genetics. In: Beurton P, Falk R and Rheinberger H‐J (eds) The Concept of the Gene in Development and Evolution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Griesemer J (2001) Development, culture and the units of inheritance. Philosophy of Science (Proceedings), (in press).

Hull D (1981) Units of evolution: a metaphysical essay. In: Jensen UL and Harré R (eds) The Philosophy of Evolution, pp. 23–44. Brighton: Harvester Press.

Lack D (1954) The evolution of reproductive rates. In: Huxley JS, Hardy AC and Ford EB (eds) Evolution as a Process, pp. 143–156. London: Allen and Unwin.

Lewontin RC (1970) The units of selection. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 1: 1–18.

Lewontin RC (1974) The Genetic Basis of Evolutionary Change. New York: Columbia University Press.

Lewontin RC (1978) Adaptation. Scientific American 239: 156–169.

Lloyd EA (1988) The Structure and Confirmation of Evolutionary Theory. New York: Greenwood Press.

Lorenz K (1950) Ganzheit und Teil in der tierischen und menschlichen Gemeinschaft. Studium Generale 3/9.

McCauley DE (1994) Intrademic group selection imposed by a parasitoid–host interaction. American Naturalist 144: 1–13.

Maynard Smith J and Szathmáry E (1995) The Major Transitions in Evolution. Oxford: WH Freeman.

Orgel LE and Crick FHC (1980) Selfish DNA: The ultimate parasite. Nature 284: 604–607.

Sober E (1984) The Nature of Selection. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Sober E (1992) Screening‐off and the units of selection. Philosophy of Science 59: 142–152.

Sober E and Wilson DS (1994) A critical review of philosophical work on the units of selection problem. Philosophy of Science 61: 534–555.

Stevens L, Goodnight CJ and Kalisz S (1995) Multilevel selection in natural populations of Impatiens capensis. American Naturalist 145: 513–526.

Szathmáry E and Maynard Smith J (1997) From replicators to reproducers: the first major transitions leading to life. Journal of Theoretical Biology 187: 555–571.

Williams GC (1966) Adaptation and Natural Selection. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Wimsatt WC (1980) Reductionistic research strategies and their biases in the units of selection controversy. In: Nickles T (ed.) Scientific Discovery, vol. II: Historical and Scientific Case Studies, pp. 213–259. Dordrecht: Reidel.

Wimsatt WC (1981) The units of selection and the structure of the multi‐level genome. In: Asquith PD and Giere RN (eds) PSA 1980, vol. 2, pp. 122–183. East Lansing, MI: Philosophy of Science Association.

Wynn‐Edwards VC (1962) Animal Dispersion in Relation to Social Behaviour. Edinburgh and London: Oliver and Boyd.

Contact Editor close
Submit a note to the editor about this article by filling in the form below.

* Required Field

How to Cite close
Brandon, Robert N(Apr 2001) Philosophy of Selection: Units and Levels. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0003463]