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Evolution and the Levels of Selection

Samir Okasha

Published in print November 2006 | ISBN: 9780199267972
Published online January 2007 | e-ISBN: 9780191708275 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199267972.001.0001
Evolution and the Levels of Selection

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Does natural selection act primarily on individual organisms, on groups, on genes, or on whole species? This book provides a comprehensive analysis of the long-standing controversy in evolutionary biology over the levels of selection, focusing on conceptual, philosophical, and foundational questions. In the first half of the book, a systematic framework is developed for thinking about natural selection acting at multiple levels of the biological hierarchy; the framework is then used to help resolve outstanding issues. Considerable attention is paid to the concept of causality as it relates to the levels of selection, particularly the idea that natural selection at one hierarchical level can have effects that ‘filter’ up or down to other levels. Full account is taken of the recent biological literature on ‘major evolutionary transitions’ and the recent resurgence of interest in multi-level selection theory among biologists. Other biological topics discussed include Price's equation, kin and group selection, the gene's eye view, evolutionary game theory, selfish genetic elements, species and clade selection, and the evolution of individuality. Philosophical topics discussed include reductionism and holism, causation and correlation, the nature of hierarchical organization, and realism and pluralism about the levels of selection.

Keywords: natural selection; units of selection; multi-level selection; hierarchical organization; evolutionary transitions; major transitions; Price's equation; group selection; the gene's eye view; causality

Book.  288 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Science

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Table of Contents

Natural Selection in the Abstract in Evolution and the Levels of Selection

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Selection at Multiple Levels: Concepts and Methods in Evolution and the Levels of Selection

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Causality and Multi‐Level Selection in Evolution and the Levels of Selection

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Philosophical Issues in the Levels‐of‐Selection Debate in Evolution and the Levels of Selection

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The Gene's‐Eye View and its Discontents in Evolution and the Levels of Selection

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The Group Selection Controversy in Evolution and the Levels of Selection

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Species Selection, Clade Selection, and Macroevolution in Evolution and the Levels of Selection

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Levels of Selection and the Major Evolutionary Transitions in Evolution and the Levels of Selection

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