From Anomaly to Unification: Tracy Sonneborn and the Species Problem in Protozoa, 1954-1957 [Book Review]
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Journal of the History of Biology 32 (1):93 - 132 (1999)
This article examines the critique of the biological species concept advanced by protozoan geneticist Tracy Sonneborn at the 1955 AAAS symposium on "the species problem," published subsequently in 1957. Although Sonneborn was a strong proponent of a population genetical conception of species, he became critical of the biological species concept for its failure to incorporate asexual and obligatory inbreeding organisms. It is argued that Sonneborn's intimate knowledge of the ciliate protozoan Paramecium aurelia species complex brought him into conflict with a growing pressure in the biological sciences to emphasize universal principles of life. Faced with the need to defend the value of P. aurelia as an investigative tool, Sonneborn argued that the sharp break in nature between sexual and asexual organisms posited by proponents of the biological species concept was not an existential feature of the living world, but rather the misleading consequence of an operational definition of species based only upon sexual organisms. Drawing upon his knowledge of the immense variability of P. aurelia, he proposed instead a continuum of breeding systems from obligatory outbreeding to asexual organisms, and a more broadly unifying definition of species that incorporated asexual as well as sexual organisms. Paradoxically, the push for unification that then characterized the evolutionary synthesis served to debar critical consideration of Sonneborn's more unificatory alternative, and his underlying contention that biological anomaly could serve as an important source of conceptual unification.
|Keywords||biological species concept evolution--twentieth century evolutionary synthesis intimate knowledge model organisms protozoa Tracy Sonneborn species problem/kwd>|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
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
Maureen A. O'Malley, Alastair G. B. Simpson & Andrew J. Roger (2013). The Other Eukaryotes in Light of Evolutionary Protistology. Biology and Philosophy 28 (2):299-330.
David L. Nanney (2004). No Trivial Pursuit. BioScience 54 (8):720.
Similar books and articles
John S. Wilkins (2007). The Concept and Causes of Microbial Species. Studies in History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 28 (3):389-408.
Mark Ridley (1989). The Cladistic Solution to the Species Problem. Biology and Philosophy 4 (1):1-16.
Hugh Lehman (1967). Are Biological Species Real? Philosophy of Science 34 (2):157-167.
Joel Cracraft (1987). Species Concepts and the Ontology of Evolution. Biology and Philosophy 2 (3):329-346.
John S. Wilkins (2003). How to Be a Chaste Species Pluralist-Realist: The Origins of Species Modes and the Synapomorphic Species Concept. [REVIEW] Biology and Philosophy 18 (5):621-638.
Brent D. Mishler & Robert N. Brandon (1987). Individuality, Pluralism, and the Phylogenetic Species Concept. Biology and Philosophy 2 (4):397-414.
Joel D. Velasco (2009). When Monophyly is Not Enough: Exclusivity as the Key to Defining a Phylogenetic Species Concept. Biology and Philosophy 24 (4):473-486.
Kirk Fitzhugh (forthcoming). Species as Explanatory Hypotheses: Refinements and Implications. Acta Biotheoretica.
Nicole Leroux, What Are Biological Species? : The Impact of the Current Debate in Taxonomy on the Species Problem.
Peter J. Beurton (1995). How is a Species Kept Together? Biology and Philosophy 10 (2):181-196.
L. R. Franklin (2007). Bacteria, Sex, and Systematics. Philosophy of Science 74 (1):69-95.
Werner Kunz & Markus Werning, The Biological Species as a Gene-Flow Community. Species Essentialism Does Not Imply Species Universalism.
Marc Ereshefsky (2010). Darwin's Solution to the Species Problem. Synthese 175 (3):405 - 425.
Ernst Mayr (1996). What is a Species, and What is Not? Philosophy of Science 63 (2):262-277.
Added to index2011-05-29
Total downloads4 ( #258,599 of 1,102,844 )
Recent downloads (6 months)1 ( #296,987 of 1,102,844 )
How can I increase my downloads?