What Is a Species? A Contribution to the Never Ending Species Debate in Biology

The continuing discussion of the species problem suffers from the lack of a coherent ontological theory as a basis for determining whether species have an ontological status. It has attempted to apply a full-fledged metaphysical theory to the species problem: the ontology of Mario Bunge. In doing so a few ontological fundamentals including system, individual, real and conceptual object, and law are briefly introduced. It is with the help of these fundamentals that an analysis of the species-as-individuals thesis is carried out, concluding that species are not individuals (things), but natural kinds, and that they have no ontological status. In contradistinction to the traditional view of natural kinds involving possible worlds metaphysics and semantics a notion of natural kind is given in terms of the state space approach and of nomological equivalence.
Keywords philosophy of biology  biological systematics  species  species concepts  natural kinds  state space approach  ontology
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Judith K. Crane (2004). On the Metaphysics of Species. Philosophy of Science 71 (2):156-173.
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