Synthese 164 (2):161 - 184 (2008)
|Abstract||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.|
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