The extended replicator

Biology and Philosophy 11 (3):377-403 (1996)
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This paper evaluates and criticises the developmental systems conception of evolution and develops instead an extension of the gene's eye conception of evolution. We argue (i) Dawkin's attempt to segregate developmental and evolutionary issues about genes is unsatisfactory. On plausible views of development it is arbitrary to single out genes as the units of selection. (ii) The genotype does not carry information about the phenotype in any way that distinguishes the role of the genes in development from that other factors. (iii) There is no simple and general causal criterion which distinguishes the role of genes in development and evolution. (iv) There is, however, an important sense in which genes but not every other developmental factor represent the phenotype. (v) The idea that genes represent features of the phenotype forces us to recognise that genes are not the only, or almost the only, replicators. Many mechanisms of replication are involved in both development and evolution. (vi) A conception of evolutionary history which recognises both genetic and non-genetic replicators, lineages of replicators and interactors has advantages over both the radical rejection of the replicator/interactor distinction and the conservative restriction of replication to genetic replication.



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Author Profiles

Kelly Smith
Clemson University
Kim Sterelny
Australian National University

Citations of this work

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References found in this work

In defense of proper functions.Ruth Millikan - 1989 - Philosophy of Science 56 (June):288-302.
The Return of the Gene.Kim Sterelny & Philip Kitcher - 1988 - Journal of Philosophy 85 (7):339.

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