Making the most of clade selection

Philosophy of Science 84 (2):275-295 (2017)
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Clade selection is unpopular with philosophers who otherwise accept multilevel selection theory. Clades cannot reproduce, and reproduction is widely thought necessary for evolution by natural selection, especially of complex adaptations. Using microbial evolutionary processes as heuristics, I argue contrariwise, that (1) clade growth (proliferation of contained species) substitutes for clade reproduction in the evolution of complex adaptation, (2) clade-level properties favoring persistence – species richness, dispersal, divergence, and possibly intraclade cooperation – are not collapsible into species-level traits, (3) such properties can be maintained by selection on clades, and (4) clade selection extends the explanatory power of the theory of evolution.

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W. Doolittle
Dalhousie University


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