The relativity of Darwinian populations and the ecology of endosymbiosis

Biology and Philosophy 31 (5):619-637 (2016)
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If there is a single discipline of science calling the basic concepts of biology into question, it is without doubt microbiology. Indeed, developments in microbiology have recently forced us to rethink such fundamental concepts as the organism, individual, and genome. In this paper I show how microorganisms are changing our understanding of natural aggregations and develop the concept of a Darwinian population to embrace these discoveries. I start by showing that it is hard to set the boundaries of a Darwinian population, and I suggest thinking of a Darwinian population as a relative property of a Darwinian individual. Then I argue, in contrast to the commonly held view, that Darwinian populations are multispecies units, and that in order to accept the multispecies account of Darwinian populations we have to separate fitness from natural selection. Finally, I show how all these ideas provide a theoretical framework leading to a more precise understanding of the ecology of endosymbiosis than is afforded by poetic metaphors such as ‘slavery’.



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Adrian Stencel
Jagiellonian University

References found in this work

The origin of species.Charles Darwin - 1859 - New York: Norton. Edited by Philip Appleman.
Darwinian Populations and Natural Selection.Peter Godfrey-Smith - 2009 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
The Selfish Gene. [REVIEW]Gunther S. Stent & Richard Dawkins - 1977 - Hastings Center Report 7 (6):33.
Evolution and the levels of selection.Samir Okasha - 2006 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life.David L. Hull - 1997 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 48 (3):435-438.

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