On the origin of the typological/population distinction in Ernst Mayr's changing views of species, 1942-1959

Ernst Mayr's typological/population distinction is a conceptual thread that runs throughout much of his work in systematics, evolutionary biology, and the history and philosophy of biology. Mayr himself claims that typological thinking originated in the philosophy of Plato and that population thinking was first introduced by Charles Darwin and field naturalists. A more proximate origin of the typological/population thinking, however, is found in Mayr's own work on species. This paper traces the antecedents of the typological/population distinction by detailing Mayr's changing views of species between 1942 and 1955. During this period, Mayr struggles to refine the biological species concept in the face of tensions that exist between studying species locally and studying them as geographically distributed collections of variable populations. The typological/population distinction is first formulated in 1955, when Mayr generalizes from the type concept versus the population concept in taxonomy to typological versus population thinking in biology more generally. Mayr's appeal to the more general distinction between typological and population thinking coincides with the waning status of natural history and evolutionary biology that occurs in the early 1950s and the distinction plays an important role in Mayr's efforts to legitimate the natural historical sciences.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1016/S1369-8486(03)00026-8
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 16,667
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

View all 10 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Phillip Honenberger (2015). Grene and Hull on Types and Typological Thinking in Biology. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 50:13-25.
Thomas A. C. Reydon & Markus Scholz (2015). Searching for Darwinism in Generalized Darwinism. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 66 (3):561-589.
Mark F. Riegner (2013). Ancestor of the New Archetypal Biology: Goethe’s Dynamic Typology as a Model for Contemporary Evolutionary Developmental Biology. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (4):735-744.
Ron Amundson (2005). Darwins for Everyone. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 36 (1):209-220.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

75 ( #45,186 of 1,726,249 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

45 ( #26,187 of 1,726,249 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.