Graduate studies at Western
Biology and Philosophy 27 (2):159-177 (2012)
|Abstract||The pheneticist philosophy holds that biological taxa are clusters of entities united by a form of all-things-considered resemblance. This view of taxonomy has come in for almost universal criticism from philosophers, and has received little praise from biologists, over the past 30 years or so. This article defends a modest pheneticism, understood as part of a pluralist view of taxonomy. First, phenetic approaches to taxonomy are alive and well in biological practice, especially in the areas of microbiology and botany. Second, the pheneticist notion of overall similarity is defensible, and is implicitly endorsed even by those (such as Quine) usually implicated in attacks on similarity. Third, there are limited biological domains within which pheneticism’s conception of species as kinds (rather than heterogeneous individuals) remains applicable|
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