Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Agents and Goals in Evolution - Oxford Scholarship Online
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Agents and Goals in Evolution

Samir Okasha


In evolutionary biology, there is a mode of thinking which is quite common, and philosophically significant. This is ‘agential thinking’. In its paradigm case, agential thinking involves treating an evolved organism as if it were an agent pursuing a goal, such as survival and reproduction, and treating its phenotypic traits, including its behaviours, as strategies for achieving this goal. Less commonly, the entities that are treated as agent-like are genes or groups, rather than individual organisms. Agential thinking is related to the familiar Darwinian point that organisms’ evolved traits ar ... More

Keywords: evolution, agency, goals, rationality, natural selection

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2018 Print ISBN-13: 9780198815082
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2018 DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198815082.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Samir Okasha, author
Professor of Philosophy of Science, University of Bristol