Evolution, phenotypic selection, and the units of selection

Philosophy of Science 57 (2):210-225 (1990)
In recent years philosophers have attempted to clarify the units of selection controversy in evolutionary biology by offering conceptual analyses of the term 'unit of selection'. A common feature of many of these analyses is an emphasis on the claim that units of selection are entities exhibiting heritable variation in fitness. In this paper I argue that the demand that units of selection be characterized in terms of heritability is unnecessary, as well as undesirable, on historical, theoretical, and philosophical grounds. I propose a positive account of the proper referent of the term 'unit of selection', distinguishing between the processes of evolution and phenotypic selection. The main result of this analysis is greater clarity about the conceptual structure of evolutionary theory
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DOI 10.1086/289544
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Daniel C. Dennett (1993). Evolution, Teleology, Intentionality. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 16 (2):89-391.
Jonathan Bennett (1993). Comments on Dennett From a Cautious Ally. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 16 (2):381-385.
Jon Ringen (1993). Dennett's Intentions and Darwin's Legacy. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 16 (2):386.

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