David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Biology and Philosophy 18 (3):387-400 (2003)
The current widespread belief that taxonomic methods used before Darwin were essentialist is ill-founded. The essentialist method developed by followers of Plato and Aristotle required definitions to state properties that are always present. Polythetic groups do not obey that requirement, whatever may have been the ontological beliefs of the taxonomist recognizing such groups. Two distinct methods of forming higher taxa, by chaining and by examplar, were widely used in the period between Linnaeus and Darwin, and both generated polythetic groups. Philosopher William Whewell congratulated pre-Darwinian taxonomists for not adhering to the rigid ideal of definition used in the mathematical sciences. What he called the method of types is here called the method of exemplars because typology has been equated with essentialism, whereas the use of a type species as the reference point or prototype for a higher category was a practice inconsistent with essentialism. The story that the essentialism of philosophers dominated the development of systematics may prove to be a myth.
|Keywords||Essentialism History Linnaeus Mayr Method of exemplars Polythetic groups Popper Typology Whewell|
|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
Staffan Müller-Wille (2007). Collection and Collation: Theory and Practice of Linnaean Botany. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 38 (3):541-562.
Joeri Witteveen (forthcoming). Suppressing Synonymy with a Homonym: The Emergence of the Nomenclatural Type Concept in Nineteenth Century Natural History. Journal of the History of Biology.
David L. Hull (2006). The Essence of Scientific Theories. Biological Theory 1 (1):17-19.
Maureen A. O’Malley (2010). Ernst Mayr, the Tree of Life, and Philosophy of Biology. Biology and Philosophy 25 (4):529-552.
Staffan Müller-Wille (2007). Collection and Collation: Theory and Practice of Linnaean Botany. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 38 (3):541-562.
Similar books and articles
Michael Devitt (2008). Resurrecting Biological Essentialism. Philosophy of Science 75 (3):344-382.
Elliott Sober (1980). Evolution, Population Thinking, and Essentialism. Philosophy of Science 47 (3):350-383.
Samir Okasha (2002). Darwinian Metaphysics: Species and the Question of Essentialism. Synthese 131 (2):191-213.
Uma Narayan (1998). Essence of Culture and a Sense of History: A Feminist Critique of Cultural Essentialism. Hypatia 13 (2):86 - 106.
Michael Strevens (2000). The Essentialist Aspect of Naive Theories. Cognition 74 (149):175.
Cressida Jane Heyes (1997). 'Back to the Rough Ground!': Wittgenstein, Essentialism, and Feminist Methods. Dissertation, Mcgill University (Canada)
Michael Della Rocca (2002). Essentialism Vs. Essentialism. In Tamar Gendler & John Hawthorne (eds.), Conceivability and Possibility. Oxford University Press 223--252.
Kevin De Queiroz (1988). Systematics and the Darwinian Revolution. Philosophy of Science 55 (2):238-259.
Kevin Queiroz (1992). Phylogenetic Definitions and Taxonomic Philosophy. Biology and Philosophy 7 (3):295-313.
David N. Stamos (2005). Pre-Darwinian Taxonomy and Essentialism – a Reply to Mary Winsor. Biology and Philosophy 20 (1):79-96.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads59 ( #76,084 of 1,934,372 )
Recent downloads (6 months)1 ( #434,207 of 1,934,372 )
How can I increase my downloads?