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Reply to Catania

  • B. F. Skinner (a1)

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What is selected? Around the turn of the century, Samuel Butler made the point that a hen is only an egg's way of making another egg. He was anticipating the view that the organism is the servant of the gene. But the organism is needed by the gene. Variations occur in genes but must be selected in organisms. If we regard a culture as a social environment that shapes the behavior of new members of a group, then we can say that a culture is simply an individual's way of producing other enculturated individuals. Variations occur in the individual, but it is the culture with its practices that survives. Many practices evolve and survive independently of particular cultures, just as eyes, ears, wings, and legs – the “practices” of species – evolve and survive independently of particular species.

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Reply to Catania

  • B. F. Skinner (a1)

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