Species in three and four dimensions

Synthese 164 (2):161-184 (2008)
There is an interesting parallel between two debates in different domains of contemporary analytic philosophy. One is the endurantism– perdurantism, or three-dimensionalism vs. four-dimensionalism, debate in analytic metaphysics. The other is the debate on the species problem in philosophy of biology. In this paper I attempt to cross-fertilize these debates with the aim of exploiting some of the potential that the two debates have to advance each other. I address two issues. First, I explore what the case of species implies regarding the feasibility of particular positions in the endurantism– perdurantism debate. I argue that the case of species casts doubt on the recent claim that three-dimensionalism and four-dimensionalism are equivalent descriptions of the same underlying reality. Second, and conversely, I examine whether the metaphysical worry about three-dimensionalism and four-dimensionalism can help us to better understand the nature of biological species. I show that analyzing the thesis that species are individuals against the background of the endurantism– perdurantism debate allows us to explicate two different ways in which this thesis can be interpreted
Keywords Endurantism  Four-dimensionalism  Perdurantism  Species-are-individuals thesis  Species problem  Three-dimensionalism
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References found in this work BETA
Daniel C. Dennett (1991). Real Patterns. Journal of Philosophy 88 (1):27-51.
Eli Hirsch (2005). Physical-Object Ontology, Verbal Disputes, and Common Sense. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 70 (1):67–97.

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Citations of this work BETA
Thomas A. C. Reydon (2009). Gene Names as Proper Names of Individuals: An Assessment. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 60 (2):409-432.

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