Resurrecting biological essentialism

Philosophy of Science 75 (3):344-382 (2008)
Abstract
The article defends the doctrine that Linnaean taxa, including species, have essences that are, at least partly, underlying intrinsic, mostly genetic, properties. The consensus among philosophers of biology is that such essentialism is deeply wrong, indeed incompatible with Darwinism. I argue that biological generalizations about the morphology, physiology, and behavior of species require structural explanations that must advert to these essential properties. The objection that, according to current “species concepts,” species are relational is rejected. These concepts are primarily concerned with what it is for a kind to be a species and throw little light on the essentialist issue of what it is for an organism to be a member of a particular kind. Finally, the article argues that this essentialism can accommodate features of Darwinism associated with variation and change.
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References found in this work BETA
Michael Devitt (2005). Rigid Application. Philosophical Studies 125 (2):139--165.

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Citations of this work BETA
Travis Dumsday (2010). Natural Kinds and the Problem of Complex Essences. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 88 (4):619-634.
Makmiller Pedroso (2012). Essentialism, History, and Biological Taxa. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 43 (1):182-190.
Tim Lewens (2012). Human Nature: The Very Idea. Philosophy and Technology 25 (4):459-474.

View all 15 citations

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