David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Acta Biotheoretica 41 (4) (1993)
Realist philosophies of science posit a dialectical relation between theoretical, explanatory knowledge and practical, including taxonomic knowledge. This paper examines the dialectic between the theory of descent and empirical, Linnaean taxonomy which is based on a logic of traditional classes. It considers the arguments of David Hull to the effect that many of the practical problems of empirical classification can be resolved by means of an ontology based upon the theory of descent in which species taxa are regarded as individuals rather than as classes or natural kinds.Contra Hull, it is argued that this view is, at best, only partially consistent with taxonomic practice and that it cannot sustain experimental practice which presupposes that species taxa be regarded as natural kinds. An outline is given of a possible alternative dialectic between a field theory of morphogenesis and a rational systematics involving a logic of relations.
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