Biology & Philosophy

, Volume 29, Issue 5, pp 657–673

Symbiosis, selection, and individuality


DOI: 10.1007/s10539-014-9449-8

Cite this article as:
Booth, A. Biol Philos (2014) 29: 657. doi:10.1007/s10539-014-9449-8


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 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Harvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

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