Crítica, Revista Hispanoamericana de Filosofía, Volume 25, number 75, diciembre 1993
El gene como factor causal probabilístico en la teoría de la selección natural
[The Gene as Probabilistic Causal Factor in the Theory of Natural Selection]
Carlos López Beltrán
Instituto de Investigaciones Filosóficas
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México


Abstract: This paper aims to give a causal account of the privileged status of genes in the theory of natural selection. Adding to the arguments that Dawkins (1976, 1982) and Kitcher & Sterelny (1989) have given for a distinction between the role of genes as units of natural selection, and that of other structures and properties from higher levels of organization, it criticizes the hierarchical view of a multiplicity of units for its lack of awareness of a basic causal assymetry between the genic and other levels. Being located at what one might call a Weismannian vertex, genes, it is argued, neatly articulate the two different dimensions of probabilistic causality, the token causality and the type causality. They do not have the passive (book-keeping) role some authors want to give them but are causally (probabilistically) responsible both for the recurrence of features from generation to generation, and for the presence of similar genes in future gene-pools. Heritability, it is also argued, when properly understood, can be seen as the biological property that captures this dual causal role of genes.
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