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The Major Transitions in Evolution Revisited$
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Brett Calcott and Kim Sterelny

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780262015240

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262015240.001.0001

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Biological Ontology and Hierarchical Organization: A Defense of Rank Freedom

Biological Ontology and Hierarchical Organization: A Defense of Rank Freedom

Chapter:
(p.53) 3 Biological Ontology and Hierarchical Organization: A Defense of Rank Freedom
Source:
The Major Transitions in Evolution Revisited
Author(s):

Samir Okasha

Publisher:
The MIT Press
DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262015240.003.0004

This chapter presents a displacement of the organism as a privileged level of analysis in evolutionary biology. It is concerned with the ontology of biology systems, with particular reference to hierarchical organization. It argues that the concept of a rank-free hierarchy can be transposed to the major transitions hierarchy, with interesting consequences. This chapter shows that the idea of rank freedom makes good sense of a number of facets of the recent discussion of evolutionary transitions and multilevel selection. It suggests that the idea of rank freedom is already at work, implicitly, in much theorizing about evolutionary transitions and/or multilevel selection.

Keywords:   evolutionary biology, ontology, biology systems, hierarchical organization, rank-free hierarchy, rank freedom, evolutionary transitions, multilevel selection

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