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)|
|Through your library||Configure|
Similar books and articles
Arthur C. Caplan (1980). Have Species Become Declasse? Psa 1980:71-82.
Samir Okasha (2002). Darwinian Metaphysics: Species and the Question of Essentialism. Synthese 131 (2):191-213.
Michael Devitt (2008). Resurrecting Biological Essentialism. Philosophy of Science 75 (3):344-382.
Mark Ridley (1989). The Cladistic Solution to the Species Problem. Biology and Philosophy 4 (1):1-16.
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.
David B. Kitts & David J. Kitts (1979). Biological Species as Natural Kinds. Philosophy of Science 46 (4):613-622.
Hugh Lehman (1967). Are Biological Species Real? Philosophy of Science 34 (2):157-167.
Michael Ruse (1987). Biological Species: Natural Kinds, Individuals, or What? British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 38 (2):225-242.
Werner Kunz & Markus Werning, The Biological Species as a Gene-Flow Community. Species Essentialism Does Not Imply Species Universalism.
Added to index2010-06-14
Total downloads94 ( #9,678 of 1,008,336 )
Recent downloads (6 months)4 ( #22,179 of 1,008,336 )
How can I increase my downloads?