The empirical nonequivalence of genic and genotypic models of selection: A (decisive) refutation of genic selectionism and pluralistic genic selectionism

Philosophy of Science 73 (3):277-297 (2006)
Abstract
Genic selectionists (Williams 1966; Dawkins 1976) defend the view that genes are the (unique) units of selection and that all evolutionary events can be adequately represented at the genic level. Pluralistic genic selectionists (Sterelny and Kitcher 1988; Waters 1991; Dawkins 1982) defend the weaker view that in many cases there are multiple equally adequate accounts of evolutionary events, but that always among the set of equally adequate representations will be one at the genic level. We describe a range of cases all involving stable equilibria actively maintained by selection. In these cases genotypic models correctly show that selection is active at the equilibrium point. In contrast, the genic models have selection disappearing at equilibrium. For deterministic models this difference makes no difference. However, once drift is added in, the two sets of models diverge in their predicted evolutionary trajectories. Thus, contrary to received wisdom on this matter, the two sets of models are not empirically equivalent. Moreover, the genic models get the facts wrong.
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Peter Gildenhuys (2009). An Explication of the Causal Dimension of Drift. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 60 (3):521-555.
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