The individuality of species: Some reflections on the debate

Synthese 120 (1):89-94 (1999)
Abstract
The thesis that species are individuals, and not classes as the traditional view had it, has been influential in the last 25 years. In this paper David Hull's arguments for the thesis are surveyed, as well as some counterarguments presented by Philip Kitcher. It is claimed that though species can be conceptualized as individuals, we are not compelled to view them in that way. The importance of the issue seems to have been somewhat exaggerated. However, it might happen that empirical findings concerning species selection would strengthen the case for the thesis, thereby rendering it straightforwardly empirical. The applicability of teleological explanation is suggested as a criterion for biological individuality.
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