Biology & Philosophy

, Volume 29, Issue 5, pp 657–673 | Cite as

Symbiosis, selection, and individuality

  • Austin BoothEmail author


A recent development in biology has been the growing acceptance that holobionts, entities comprised of symbiotic microbes and their host organisms, are widespread in nature. There is agreement that holobionts are evolved outcomes, but disagreement on how to characterize the operation of natural selection on them. The aim of this paper is to articulate the contours of the disagreement. I explain how two distinct foundational accounts of the process of natural selection give rise to competing views about evolutionary individuality.


Biological individuality Units of selection Symbiosis Holobiont Microbe 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Harvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

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