Rethinking hereditary relations: the reconstitutor as the evolutionary unit of heredity

Synthese 200 (5):1-42 (2022)
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This paper introduces the reconstitutor as a comprehensive unit of heredity within the context of evolutionary research. A reconstitutor is the structure resulting from a set of relationships between different elements or processes that are actively involved in the recreation of a specific phenotypic variant in each generation regardless of the biomolecular basis of the elements or whether they stand in a continuous line of ancestry. Firstly, we justify the necessity of introducing the reconstitutor by showing the limitations of other evolutionary conceptions of the unit of heredity, such as the replicator, the reproducer, and the Darwinian individual. We argue that these conceptions are based on the requirement of lineage formation, which we argue to be unnecessary for the existence of evolutionary heredity. In the second part, we introduce the reconstitutor, which we base on the concept of Stability of Traits, and illustrate how it covers cases of hereditary phenomena not covered by the previous accounts. Secondly, we illustrate how the reconstitutor could serve as a platform to rethink ecological inheritance and other forms of inheritance that have been recently introduced under the song/singer model of evolution.

Author Profiles

Javier Suárez
Jagiellonian University
Adrian Stencel
Jagiellonian University
Sophie Veigl
University of Vienna


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