The units of selection and the causal structure of the world

Erkenntnis 54 (2):215-233 (2001)
Abstract
Genic selectionism holds that all selection can be understood as operating on particular genes. Critics (and conventional biological wisdom) insist that this misrepresents the actual causal structure of selective phenomena at higher levels of biological organization, but cannot convincingly defend this intuition. I argue that the real failing of genic selectionism is pragmatic – it prevents us from adopting the most efficient corpus of causal laws for predicting and intervening in the course of affairs – and I offer a Pragmatic account of causation itself which ultimately bears out the claim that genic selectionism misrepresents the causal structure of selective contexts.
Keywords Philosophy   Philosophy   Epistemology   Ethics   Logic   Ontology
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Reprint years 2004
DOI 10.1023/A:1005641025742
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