Biology & Philosophy

, Volume 29, Issue 4, pp 517–538

From survivors to replicators: evolution by natural selection revisited


DOI: 10.1007/s10539-013-9383-1

Cite this article as:
Bourrat, P. Biol Philos (2014) 29: 517. doi:10.1007/s10539-013-9383-1


For evolution by natural selection to occur it is classically admitted that the three ingredients of variation, difference in fitness and heredity are necessary and sufficient. In this paper, I show using simple individual-based models, that evolution by natural selection can occur in populations of entities in which neither heredity nor reproduction are present. Furthermore, I demonstrate by complexifying these models that both reproduction and heredity are predictable Darwinian products (i.e. complex adaptations) of populations initially lacking these two properties but in which new variation is introduced via mutations. Later on, I show that replicators are not necessary for evolution by natural selection, but rather the ultimate product of such processes of adaptation. Finally, I assess the value of these models in three relevant domains for Darwinian evolution.


Evolution by natural selection Replicator Fitness Individual-based models Natural selection Diachronic 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts, School of Philosophical and Historical EnquiriesThe University of SydneySydneyAustralia

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