The Evolutionary Gene and the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis


Authors
Pierrick Bourrat
Macquarie University
Abstract
Advocates of an ‘extended evolutionary synthesis’ have claimed that standard evolutionary theory fails to accommodate epigenetic inheritance. The opponents of the extended synthesis argue that the evidence for epigenetic inheritance causing adaptive evolution in nature is insufficient. We suggest that the ambiguity surrounding the conception of the gene represents a background semantic issue in the debate. Starting from Haig’s gene-selectionist framework and Griffiths and Neumann-Held’s notion of the evolutionary gene, we define senses of ‘gene’, ‘environment’, and ‘phenotype’ in a way that makes them consistent with gene-centric evolutionary theory. We argue that the evolutionary gene, when being materialized, need not be restricted to nucleic acids but can encompass other heritable units such as epialleles. If the evolutionary gene is understood more broadly, and the notions of environment and phenotype are defined accordingly, current evolutionary theory does not require a major conceptual change in order to incorporate the mechanisms of epigenetic inheritance. _1_ Introduction _2_ The Gene-centric Evolutionary Theory and the ‘Evolutionary Gene’ _2.1_ The evolutionary gene _2.2_ Genes, phenotypes, and environments _3_ Epigenetic Inheritance and the Gene-Centred Framework _3.1_ Treating the gene as the sole heritable material? _3.2_ Epigenetics and phenotypic plasticity _4_ Conclusion
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DOI 10.1093/bjps/axw035
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References found in this work BETA

Making Things Happen. A Theory of Causal Explanation.James Woodward - 2007 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 74 (1):233-249.
Causes That Make a Difference.C. Kenneth Waters - 2007 - Journal of Philosophy 104 (11):551-579.
What Genes Can't Do.Lenny Moss - 2005 - Journal of the History of Biology 38 (2):383-384.

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Citations of this work BETA

In What Sense Can There Be Evolution by Natural Selection Without Perfect Inheritance?Pierrick Bourrat - 2019 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 32 (1):13-31.

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