Holism, Individualism, and the Units of Selection

Developing a definition of group selection, and applying that definition to the dispute in the social sciences between methodological holists and methodological individualists, are the two goals of this paper. The definition proposed distinguishes between changes in groups that are due to group selection and changes in groups that are artefacts of selection processes occurring at lower levels of organization. It also explains why the existence of group selection is not implied by the mere fact that fitness values of organisms are sensitive to the composition of groups. And, lastly, the definition explains why group selection need not involve selection for altruism. Group selection is thereby seen as an evolutionary force which is objectively distinct from other evolutionary forces. Applying the distinction between group and individual selection to the holism/individualism dispute has the desirable result that the dispute is not decidable a priori. This way of looking at the dispute yields a conception of individualism which is untainted by atomism and a conception of holism which is unspoiled by hypostatis.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.2307/192588
 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: 16,667
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

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Ayelet Shavit (2004). Shifting Values Partly Explain the Debate Over Group Selection. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 35 (4):697-720.
J. Beach (2003). The Transition to Civilization and Symbolically Stored Genomes. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 34 (1):109-141.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Samir Okasha (2001). Why Won't the Group Selection Controversy Go Away? British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 52 (1):25-50.
Alejandro Rosas (2009). Levels of Selection in Synergy. Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 28 (2):135-150.
Michael Byron, Evolutionary Ethics and Biologically Supportable Morality. Proceedings of Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy, PAIDEIA: Philosophy Educating Humanity.
Robert Brandon (1982). The Levels of Selection. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1982:315 - 323.
Elisabeth A. Lloyd (1986). Evaluation of Evidence in Group Selection Debates. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1986:483 - 493.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

16 ( #167,478 of 1,726,249 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

1 ( #369,877 of 1,726,249 )

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.