Biological Theory

, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 167–181 | Cite as

Selection Is Entailed by Self-Organization and Natural Selection Is a Special Case

  • Rod SwensonEmail author


In their book, Darwinism Evolving: Systems Dynamics and the Genealogy of Natural Selection, Depew and Weber (1995) argued for the need to address the relationship between self-organization and natural selection in evolutionary theory, and focused on seven “visions” for doing so. Recently, Batten et al. (2008) in a paper in this journal, entitled “Visions of evolution: self-organization proposes what natural selection disposes,” picked up the issue with the work of Depew and Weber as a starting point. While the efforts of both sets of authors are to be commended, there are substantive errors in both the presentations of my work and of my work with colleagues (one of the “visions” discussed) that undermine theirs. My purpose here is to correct the errors in question, thereby removing the undermining effects and in so doing reassert the position my colleagues and I first advanced more than two decades ago, and that I still stand by and argue for today. The central points are as follows: (1) Self-organization or spontaneous ordering is a process of selection; (2) this selection process is governed by a “physical selection principle”; (3) this principle is the law of maximum entropy production; and (4) natural selection is a special case where the components are replicating.


autocatakinetics evolution maximum entropy production natural selection physical selection self-organization spontaneous order 


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Copyright information

© Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for the Ecological Study of Perception and ActionUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA

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