Species as family resemblance concepts: the (dis-)solution of the species problem?

Bioessays 25 (6):596-602 (2003)
Abstract
The so-called ‘‘species problem’’ has plagued evolution- ary biology since before Darwin’s publication of the aptly titled Origin of Species. Many biologists think the problem is just a matter of semantics; others complain that it will not be solved until we have more empirical data. Yet, we don’t seem to be able to escape discussing it and teaching seminars about it. In this paper, I briefly examine the main themes of the biological and philosophical liter- atures on the species problem, focusing on identifying common threads as well as relevant differences. I then argue two fundamental points. First, the species problem is not primarily an empirical one, but it is rather fraught with philosophical questions that require—but cannot be settled by—empirical evidence. Second, the (dis-)solution lies in explicitly adopting Wittgenstein’s idea of ‘‘family resemblance’’ or cluster concepts, and to consider spe- cies as an example of such concepts. This solution has several attractive features, including bringing together apparently diverging themes of discussion among bio- logists and philosophers. The current proposal is con- ceptually independent (though not incompatible) with the pluralist approach to the species problem advocated by Mishler, Donoghue, Kitcher and Dupre ́, which implies that distinct aspects of the species question need to be emphasized depending on the goals of the researcher. From the biological literature, the concept of species that most closely matches the philosophical discussion pre- sented here is Templeton’s cohesion idea.
Keywords family resemblance  species concept  Wittgenstein
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
 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 Massimo Pigliucci, Species as family resemblance concepts: the (dis-)solution of the species problem?
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

No references found.

Citations of this work BETA
Jack Powers (2013). Finding Ernst Mayr's Plato. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (4):714-723.
Similar books and articles
Hugh Lehman (1967). Are Biological Species Real? Philosophy of Science 34 (2):157-167.
Peter J. Beurton (1995). How is a Species Kept Together? Biology and Philosophy 10 (2):181-196.
Joel D. Velasco (2008). Species Concepts Should Not Conflict with Evolutionary History, but Often Do. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 39 (4):407-414.
Analytics

Monthly downloads

Added to index

2012-02-01

Total downloads

293 ( #1,166 of 1,102,837 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

126 ( #300 of 1,102,837 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature


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