Biology and Philosophy

, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 167–180

The Units of Selection Revisited: The Modules of Selection

  • Robert N. Brandon

DOI: 10.1023/A:1006682200831

Cite this article as:
Brandon, R.N. Biology & Philosophy (1999) 14: 167. doi:10.1023/A:1006682200831


Richard Lewontin's (1970) early work on the “units” of selection initiated the conceptual and theoretical investigations that have led to the hierarchical perspective on selection that has reached near consensus status today. This paper explores other aspects of his work, work on what he termed “continuity” and “quasi-independence”, that connect to contemporary explorations of modularity in development and evolution. I characterize such modules and argue that they are the true units of selection in that they are what evolution by natural selection individuates, selects among, and transforms.

levels of selection modularity units of selection 

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert N. Brandon
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Philosophy and ZoologyDuke UniversityDurhamU.S.A. E-mail