Reproduction and the central project of evolutionary theory

Biology and Philosophy 2 (4):383-396 (1987)
In much of the discourse of evolutionary theory, reproduction is treated as an autonomous function of the individual organism — even in discussions of sexually reproducing organisms. In this paper, I examine some of the functions and consequences of such manifestly peculiar language. In particular, I suggest that it provides crucial support for the central project of evolutionary theory — namely that of locating causal efficacy in intrinsic properties of the individual organism. Furthermore, I argue that the language of individual reproduction is maintained by certain methodological conventions that both obscure many of the problems it generates and serve to actively impede attempts to redress those difficulties that can be identified. Finally, I suggest that inclusion of the complexities introduced by sexual reproduction — in both language and methodology — may radically undermine the individualist focus of evolutionary theory.
Keywords Reproduction  individualism  fitness  natural selection  units of selection
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/BF00127697
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 23,217
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Henry Byerly (1986). Fitness as a Function. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1986:494 - 501.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

25 ( #189,873 of 1,941,080 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

3 ( #272,622 of 1,941,080 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.