Nongenetic selection and nongenetic inheritance

According to the received view of evolution, only genes are inherited. From this view it follows that only genetically-caused phenotypic variation is selectable and, thereby, that all selection is at bottom genetic selection. This paper argues that the received view is wrong. In many species, there are intergenerationally-stable phenotypic differences due to environmental differences. Natural selection can act on these nongenetically-caused phenotypic differences in the same way it acts on genetically-caused phenotypic differences. Some selection is at bottom nongenetic selection. The argument against the received view involves a reformulation of the concepts of inheritance and heritability. Inherited factors are all those developmental factors responsible for parent–offspring similarity; some inherited factors are genetic and some are not. Heritable variation is intergenerationally-stable phenotypic variation; some such variation is genetically-caused and some is not. The received view and its critics The possibility of nongenetic selection (the lucky butterfly) The reality of nongenetic selection 3.1 Imprinting mechanisms 3.2 Other learning mechanisms 3.3 Other nongenetic mechanisms Genetic and nongenetic inheritance mechanisms Genetic and nongenetic inherited factors Genetic and nongenetic heritability Conclusions + Current address: Dr Matteo Mameli, Research Fellow, King's College, Cambridge, CB2 1ST, United Kingdom, matteo.mameli{at}' + u + '@' + d + ''//-->.
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DOI 10.1093/bjps/55.1.35
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Russell Powell (2012). The Future of Human Evolution. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 63 (1):145-175.
D. M. Walsh (2006). Organisms as Natural Purposes: The Contemporary Evolutionary Perspective. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 37 (4):771-791.

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