Selection without replicators: the origin of genes, and the replicator/interactor distinction in etiobiology

Biology and Philosophy 27 (2):215-239 (2012)

Authors
John Wilkins
University of Melbourne
Abstract
Genes are thought to have evolved from long-lived and multiply-interactive molecules in the early stages of the origins of life. However, at that stage there were no replicators, and the distinction between interactors and replicators did not yet apply. Nevertheless, the process of evolution that proceeded from initial autocatalytic hypercycles to full organisms was a Darwinian process of selection of favourable variants. We distinguish therefore between Neo-Darwinian evolution and the related Weismannian and Central Dogma divisions, on the one hand, and the more generic category of Darwinian evolution on the other. We argue that Hull’s and Dawkins’ replicator/interactor distinction of entities is a sufficient, but not necessary, condition for Darwinian evolution to take place. We conceive the origin of genes as a separation between different types of molecules in a thermodynamic state space, and employ a notion of reproducers
Keywords genes  Darwinian evolution  Hull  Dawkins  Central Dogma  Origins of life
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DOI 10.1007/s10539-011-9298-7
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Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life.Daniel C. Dennett & Jon Hodge - 1995 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 48 (3):435-438.

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