Biology & Philosophy

, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 461-479

The strategic gene

  • David HaigAffiliated withDepartment of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University Email author 

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Gene-selectionists define fundamental terms in non-standard ways. Genes are determinants of difference. Phenotypes are defined as a gene’s effects relative to some alternative whereas the environment is defined as all parts of the world that are shared by the alternatives being compared. Environments choose among phenotypes and thereby choose among genes. By this process, successful gene sequences become stores of information about what works in the environment. The strategic gene is defined as a set of gene tokens that combines ‘actor’ tokens responsible for an effect with ‘recipient’ tokens whose replication is thereby enhanced. This set of tokens can extend across the boundaries of individual organisms, or other levels of selection, as these are traditionally defined.


Gene selectionism Environment Phenotype Developmental systems theory Multi-level selection Strategic gene Relatedness