David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Theory in Biosciences 129:141-148 (2010)
Arguments against essentialism in biology rely strongly on a claim that modern biology abandoned Aristotle's notion of a species as a class of necessary and sufficient properties. However, neither his theory of essentialism, nor his logical definition of species and genus (eidos and genos) play much of a role in biological research and taxonomy, including his own. The objections to natural kinds thinking by early twentieth century biologists wrestling with the new genetics overlooked the fact that species have typical developmental cycles and most have a large shared genetic component. These are the "what-it-is-to-be" members of that species. An intrinsic biological essentialism does not commit us to Aristotelian notions, nor even modern notions, of essence. There is a long-standing definition of "species" and its precursor notions that goes back to the Greeks, and which Darwin and pretty well all biologists since him share, that I call the Generative Conception of Species. It relies on there being a shared generative power that makes progeny resemble parents. The "what-it-is-to-be" a member of that species is that developmental type, mistakes in development notwithstanding. Moreover, such "essences" have always been understood to include deviations from the type. Finally, I shall examine some implications of the collapse of the narrative about essences in biology.
|Keywords||Species concept Natural kinds Essentialism story Typology Generation Classification|
|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
Mark F. Riegner (2013). Ancestor of the New Archetypal Biology: Goethe's Dynamic Typology as a Model for Contemporary Evolutionary Developmental Biology. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 44 (4):735-744.
Similar books and articles
Arthur C. Caplan (1980). Have Species Become Declasse? Psa 1980:71-82.
Werner Kunz & Markus Werning, The Biological Species as a Gene-Flow Community. Species Essentialism Does Not Imply Species Universalism.
Michael Ruse (1987). Biological Species: Natural Kinds, Individuals, or What? British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 38 (2):225-242.
Hugh Lehman (1967). Are Biological Species Real? Philosophy of Science 34 (2):157-167.
David B. Kitts & David J. Kitts (1979). Biological Species as Natural Kinds. Philosophy of Science 46 (4):613-622.
Justin E. H. Smith (2009). “The Unity of the Generative Power”: Modern Taxonomy and the Problem of Animal Generation. Perspectives on Science 17 (1):pp. 78-104.
Mark Ridley (1989). The Cladistic Solution to the Species Problem. Biology and Philosophy 4 (1):1-16.
Michael Devitt (2008). Resurrecting Biological Essentialism. Philosophy of Science 75 (3):344-382.
Samir Okasha (2002). Darwinian Metaphysics: Species and the Question of Essentialism. Synthese 131 (2):191-213.
John S. Wilkins (2013). Biological Essentialism and the Tidal Change of Natural Kinds. Science and Education 22 (2):221-240.
Added to index2010-06-14
Total downloads143 ( #10,974 of 1,707,788 )
Recent downloads (6 months)13 ( #52,211 of 1,707,788 )
How can I increase my downloads?