• See in this sense refers to selecting for variants that do reproductively useful things.

What does for function here in this sentence.

As far as i am concerned, we can use for when the word “select” comes in a passive form as following:

  • the players were selected for their outstanding performance.
  • What is the reason for including for after selecting In the first mentioned sentence above?

Selecting variants means that you only pick variants.

I am selecting variants. (I will only choose variants.)

Selecting for variants means that you pick things that aren't necessarily variants themselves, but which will lead to variants.

I am selecting for variants. (I will choose anything that will get me closer to having a variant in the end.)

In this case, although its application is a bit unusual, it uses the following sense of the word for:

1 a —used as a function word to indicate purpose
// a grant for studying medicine

In other examples:

I am looking for red jellybeans.
I am listening for traffic.
→ My looking and listening is being used as a means to discover red jellybeans and traffic.

I am selecting for variants.
→ My selection process is being used as a means to discover variants.


The full source sentence is:

This captures nicely some of the logic of evolutionary theory – a piece that many people seem to not appreciate – namely that evolution cannot “see” what you feel; it can only “see” what organisms do (seeing in this sense refers to selecting for variants that do reproductively useful things).

In the domain of evolutionary theory, traits or variants are often said to be 'selected for" or "selected against". A variant is said to be selected for if organisms with that variant leave more offspring, so that they are better represented in the next generation. It is also common to write of "selection for X" where X is some trait subject to natural selection. The "for" is commonly used, because it is meaningless in this theory to speak of selection without indicting what is begin affected, positively or negatively by the selection, and because such selection changes frequencies in a population, rather than making absolute choices from a list or menu.

Here it seems that the model of evolutionary theory is being used as a metaphor, but the characteristic terminology of that field is being used.

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