Biology & Philosophy

, Volume 29, Issue 2, pp 233–239 | Cite as

Genetic dissent and individual compromise

  • David HaigEmail author


Organisms can be treated as optimizers when there is consensus among their genes about what is best to be done, but genomic consensus is often lacking, especially in interactions among kin because kin share some genes but not others. Grafen adopts a majoritarian perspective in which an individual’s interests are identified with the interests of the largest coreplicon of its genome, but genomic imprinting and recombination factionalize the genome so that no faction may predominate in some interactions among kin. Once intragenomic conflicts are recognized, the individual organism can be conceptualized as an arbiter among competing interests within a collective. Organismal adaptation can be recognized without phenotypes being optimized.


Coreplicon Formal Darwinism Genomic imprinting Intragenomic conflict Recombination Strategic gene 



The manuscript has benefited from the comments of Samir Okasha and Eneida Pardo.


  1. Burt A, Trivers R (2006) Genes in conflict. Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  2. Cosmides LM, Tooby J (1981) Cytoplasmic inheritance and intragenomic conflict. J Theor Biol 89:83–129CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Dawkins R (1976) The selfish gene. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  4. Eshel I (1996) On the changing concept of evolutionary population stability as a reflection of a changing point of view in the quantitative theory of evolution. J Math Biol 34:485–510CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Gardner A, Welch JJ (2011) A formal theory of the selfish gene. J Evol Biol 24:1801–1813CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Grafen A (2006) Optimization of inclusive fitness. J Theor Biol 238:541–563CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Grafen A (2014) The formal darwinism project in outline. Biol Philos 29(2). doi: 10.1007/s10539-013-9414-y
  8. Hackett JA, Sengupta R, Zylicz JJ, Murakami K, Lee C et al (2013) Germline DNA demethylation dynamics and imprint erasure through 5-hydroxymethylcytosine. Science 339:448–452CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Haig D (1996) Gestational drive and the green-bearded placenta. Proc Natl Acad Sci 93:6547–6551CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Haig D (1997) Parental antagonism, relatedness asymmetries, and genomic imprinting. Proc R Soc B 264:1657–1662CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Haig D (1999) Multiple paternity and genomic imprinting. Genetics 151:1229–1231Google Scholar
  12. Haig D (2000) Genomic imprinting, sex-biased dispersal, and social behavior. Ann NY Acad Sci 907:149–163CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Haig D (2006) Intragenomic politics. Cytogenet Genome Res 113:68–74CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Haig D (2011) Sympathy with Adam Smith and reflexions on self. J Econ Organ Behav 77:4–13CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Haig D (2012) The strategic gene. Biol Philos 27:61–479CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Haig D, Grafen A (1991) Genetic scrambling as a defence against meiotic drive. J Theor Biol 153:531–558CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Lloyd E (2005) Why the gene will not return. Philos Sci 72:287–310CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Maynard Smith J (1987) How to model evolution. In: Dupre J (ed) The latest on the best: essays on evolution and optimality. MIT Press, Cambridge, pp 119–131Google Scholar
  19. Sober E, Lewontin RC (1982) Artifact, cause, and genic selection. Philos Sci 49:157–180CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Sterelny K, Kitcher P (1988) The return of the gene. J Philos 85:339–361CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Traulsen A, Reed FA (2012) From genes to games: cooperation and cyclic dominance in meiotic drive. J Theor Biol 299:120–125CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Waters CK (2005) Why genic and multi-level selection theories are here to stay. Philos Sci 72:311–333CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Williams GC (1966) Adaptation and natural selection. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Organismic and Evolutionary BiologyHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

Personalised recommendations