Foundational issues concerning taxa and taxon names

Systematic Biology 56 (2):295-301 (2007)
Abstract
In a series of articles, Rieppel (2005, Biol. Philos. 20:465–487; 2006a, Cladistics 22:186–197; 2006b, Systematist 26:5–9), Keller et al. (2003, Bot. Rev. 69:93–110), and Nixon and Carpenter (2000, Cladistics 16:298–318) criticize the philosophical foundations of the PhyloCode. They argue that species and higher taxa are not individuals, and they reject the view that taxon names are rigid designators. Furthermore, they charge supporters of the individuality thesis and rigid designator theory with assuming essentialism, committing logical inconsistencies, and offering proposals that render taxonomy untestable. These charges are unsound. Such charges turn on confusions over rigid designator theory and the distinction between kinds and individuals. In addition, Rieppel’s, Keller et al.’s, and Nixon and Carpenter’s proposed alternatives are no better and have their own problems. The individuality thesis and rigid designator theory should not be quickly abandoned. [Individuals; kinds; PhyloCode; rigid designators; species; taxa; taxon names.]
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Tim Lewens (2012). Species, Essence and Explanation. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 43 (4):751-757.
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