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Classic Darwinism places organisms at the center of evolutionary theory, positing that natural selection is the sole mechanism by which evolution occurs. In the 1970s, the ideas within Richard Dawkins’ book, The Selfish Gene, initiated the first shift away from this by arguing that the true unit of natural selection is not the organism itself but the genes within the organism. Today, the way we understand evolution continues to change to include many more mechanisms of it.

Nathalie Gontier, Director of the Applied Evolutionary Epistemology Lab and faculty member in the Center for Philosophy of Science at the University of Lisbon, Portugal, joins the podcast today to discuss the nature of her work, which revolves around an investigation of evolutionary theory and an examination of different mechanisms and processes of evolution that extend Neo-Darwinism. She expounds on a number of topics, including an increasingly recognized mechanism called reticulate evolution, which is an evolution as it occurs by symbiogenesis and describes evolution as a network rather than a tree of bifurcating branches.

She also discusses what might lead to speciation, how epigenetic inheritance occurs, epistemological pluralism as it relates to evolutionary theory, multi-level selection, and how evolution is a process acting on everything—not just organisms or genes, but writing, cultural artifacts, ideas, and technology.

Tune in for a fascinating conversation that might change the way you think about life itself.

Learn more about her work by visiting


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