A new set of criteria for units of selection

Pierrick Bourrat*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
18 Downloads (Pure)


This article proposes two conditions to assess whether an entity at a level of description is a unit of selection qua interactor. These two conditions make it possible to (1) distinguish biologically relevant entities from arbitrary ones and (2) distinguish units that can potentially enter a selection process from those that have already done so. I show that the classical approaches used in the literature on units and levels of selection do not fare well with respect to either or both of these desiderata.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-275
Number of pages13
JournalBiological Theory
Issue number4
Early online date24 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2022. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Additivity
  • Interaction
  • Levels of selection
  • Units of selection
  • Variance


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