Changing conceptions of species

Biology and Philosophy 11 (3):405-420 (1996)
Abstract
Species are thought by many to be important units of evolution. In this paper, I argue against that view. My argument is based on an examination of the role of species in the synthetic theory of evolution. I argue that if one adopts a gradualist view of evolution, one cannot make sense of the claim that species are units in the minimal sense needed to claim that they are units of evolution, namely, that they exist as discrete entities over time. My second argument is directed against an appeal to Eldredge and Gould's theory of punctuated equilibria to support the claim that species are units of evolution. If one adopts their view, it may be possible to identify discrete temporal entities that can plausibly be termed species, but there is no reason to claim that those entities are units of evolution. Thus, on two plausible interpretations of the role of natural selection in the process of evolution, species are of no special importance. I then consider some of the reasons why species have been thought to be important evolutionary units by many contemporary evolutionary biologists. Finally, I discuss briefly the implications of this conclusion for evolutionary biology.
Keywords species  evolution  natural selection  gradualism  punctuated equilibria  variation  Lamarck  Darwin
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
 
Download options
PhilPapers Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 10,346
External links
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

No citations found.

Similar books and articles
Analytics

Monthly downloads

Added to index

2009-01-28

Total downloads

11 ( #131,838 of 1,096,631 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

1 ( #265,701 of 1,096,631 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature


Discussion
Start a new thread
Order:
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.