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Profile: Marc Ereshefsky (University of Calgary)
  1. Mark Ereshefsky, Natural Kinds in Biology.
    It is commonly held that objects in the world form natural kinds. Rabbits form a natural kind and so do all pieces of gold. The traditional account of natural kinds asserts that the members of a kind share a common essence. The essence of gold, for example, is its unique atomic structure. That structure occurs in all and only pieces of gold, and it is a property that all pieces of gold must have.
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  2. Marc Ereshefsky, Mystery of Mysteries: Darwin and the Species Problem.
    Darwin offered an intriguing answer to the species problem. He doubted the existence of the species category as a real category in nature, but he did not doubt the existence of those taxa called ‘‘species’’. And despite his scepticism of the species category, Darwin continued using the word ‘‘species’’. Many have said that Darwin did not understand the nature of species. Yet his answer to the species problem is both theoretically sound and practical. On the theoretical side, DarwinÕs answer is (...)
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  3. Marc Ereshefsky & Makmiller Pedroso, What Biofilms Can Teach Us About Individuality.
    This chapter uses the example of biofilms to examine Hull's and Godfrey-Smith's accounts of biological individuality and to explore the nature of individuality more generally. The case of biofilms shows that Godfrey-Smith’s account of biological individuality is too restrictive, while Hull’s interactor account is appropriately inclusive. The chapter then augments Hull’s account in three ways. First, Hull’s notion of interactor is embedded in a general theory of individuality that applies to individuals both in and outside of biology. Second, the sort (...)
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  4. Marc Ereshefsky, Systematic Biology.
    To cite this Article: Ereshefsky, Marc , 'Foundational Issues Concerning Taxa and Taxon Names', Systematic Biology, 56:2, 295 - 301 To link to this article: DOI: 10.1080/10635150701317401 URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10635150701317401..
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  5. Marc Ereshefsky & Thomas A. C. Reydon (forthcoming). Scientific Kinds. Philosophical Studies.
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  6. Marc Ereshefsky & Makmiller Pedroso (2013). Biological Individuality: The Case of Biofilms. Biology and Philosophy 28 (2):331-349.
    This paper examines David Hull’s and Peter Godfrey-Smith’s accounts of biological individuality using the case of biofilms. Biofilms fail standard criteria for individuality, such as having reproductive bottlenecks and forming parent-offspring lineages. Nevertheless, biofilms are good candidates for individuals. The nature of biofilms shows that Godfrey-Smith’s account of individuality, with its reliance on reproduction, is too restrictive. Hull’s interactor notion of individuality better captures biofilms, and we argue that it offers a better account of biological individuality. However, Hull’s notion of (...)
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  7. Marc Ereshefsky (2012). Homology Thinking. Biology and Philosophy 27 (3):381-400.
    This paper explores an important type of biological explanation called ‘homology thinking.’ Homology thinking explains the properties of a homologue by citing the history of a homologue. Homology thinking is significant in several ways. First, it offers more detailed explanations of biological phenomena than corresponding analogy explanations. Second, it provides an important explanation of character similarity and difference. Third, homology thinking offers a promising account of multiple realizability in biology.
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  8. Marc Ereshefsky (2010). Darwin's Solution to the Species Problem. Synthese 175 (3):405 - 425.
    Biologists and philosophers that debate the existence of the species category fall into two camps. Some believe that the species category does not exist and the term 'species' should be eliminated from biology. Others believe that with new biological insights or the application of philosophical ideas, we can be confident that the species category exists. This paper offers a different approach to the species problem. We should be skeptical of the species category, but not skeptical of the existence of those (...)
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  9. Marc Ereshefsky (2010). Microbiology and the Species Problem. Biology and Philosophy 25 (4):553-568.
    This paper examines the species problem in microbiology and its implications for the species problem more generally. Given the different meanings of ‘species’ in microbiology, the use of ‘species’ in biology is more multifarious and problematic than commonly recognized. So much so, that recent work in microbial systematics casts doubt on the existence of a prokaryote species category in nature. It also casts doubt on the existence of a general species category for all of life (one that includes both prokaryotes (...)
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  10. Marc Ereshefsky (2010). What's Wrong with the New Biological Essentialism. Philosophy of Science 77 (5):674-685.
    The received view in the philosophy of biology is that biological taxa (species and higher taxa) do not have essences. Recently, some philosophers (Boyd, Devitt, Griffiths, LaPorte, Okasha, and Wilson) have suggested new forms of biological essentialism. They argue that according to these new forms of essentialism, biological taxa do have essences. This article critically evaluates the new biological essentialism. This article’s thesis is that the costs of adopting the new biological essentialism are many, yet the benefits are none, so (...)
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  11. Marc Ereshefsky (2009). Homology: Integrating Phylogeny and Development. Biological Theory 4 (3):225-229.
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  12. Mark Ereshefsky (2009). Defining 'Health' and 'Disease'. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 40 (3):221-227.
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  13. Marc Ereshefsky, Species. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  14. Marc Ereshefsky (2007). Species, Taxonomy, and Systematics. In Michael Ruse (ed.), Philosophy of Biology. Prometheus Books. 403--428.
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  15. Mark Ereshefsky (2007). Foundational Issues Concerning Taxa and Taxon Names. Systematic Biology 56 (2):295-301.
    In a series of articles, Rieppel (2005, Biol. Philos. 20:465–487; 2006a, Cladistics 22:186–197; 2006b, Systematist 26:5–9), Keller et al. (2003, Bot. Rev. 69:93–110), and Nixon and Carpenter (2000, Cladistics 16:298–318) criticize the philosophical foundations of the PhyloCode. They argue that species and higher taxa are not individuals, and they reject the view that taxon names are rigid designators. Furthermore, they charge supporters of the individuality thesis and rigid designator theory with assuming essentialism, committing logical inconsistencies, and offering proposals that render (...)
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  16. Mark Ereshefsky (2007). Psychological Categories as Homologies: Lessons From Ethology. Biology and Philosophy 22 (5):659-674.
    Biology and Philosophy, forthcoming 2007.
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  17. Mark Ereshefsky (2007). Where the Wild Things Are: Environmental Preservation and Human Nature. Biology and Philosophy 22 (1):57-72.
    Environmental philosophers spend considerable time drawing the divide between humans and the rest of nature. Some argue that humans and our actions are unnatural. Others allow that humans are natural, but maintain that humans are nevertheless distinct. The motivation for distinguishing humans from the rest of nature is the desire to determine what aspects of the environment should be preserved. The standard view is that we should preserve those aspects of the environment outside of humans and our influence. This paper (...)
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  18. Marc Ereshefsky & Mohan Matthen (2005). Taxonomy, Polymorphism, and History: An Introduction to Population Structure Theory. Philosophy of Science 72 (1):1-21.
    Homeostatic Property Cluster (HPC) theory suggests that species and other biological taxa consist of organisms that share certain similarities. HPC theory acknowledges the existence of Darwinian variation within biological taxa. The claim is that “homeostatic mechanisms” acting on the members of such taxa nonetheless ensure a significant cluster of similarities. The HPC theorist’s focus on individual similarities is inadequate to account for stable polymorphism within taxa, and fails properly to capture their historical nature. A better approach is to treat distributions (...)
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  19. Marc Ereshefsky, Mohan Matthen, Matthew H. Slater, Alex Rosenberg, D. M. Kaplan, Kevin Js Zollman, Peter Vanderschraaf, J. McKenzie Alexander, Andreas Hüttemann & Gordon Belot (2005). 10. The Facts of the Matter: A Discussion of Norton's Material Theory of Induction The Facts of the Matter: A Discussion of Norton's Material Theory of Induction (Pp. 188-197). [REVIEW] Philosophy of Science 72 (1).
     
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  20. Marc Ereshefsky (2004). Bridging the Gap Between Human Kinds and Biological Kinds. Philosophy of Science 71 (5):912-921.
    Many writers claim that human kinds are significantly different from biological and natural kinds. Some suggest that humans kinds are unique because social structures are essential for the etiology of human kinds. Others argue that human cultural evolution is decidedly different from other forms of evolution. In this paper I suggest that the gulf between humans and our biological relatives is not as wide as some argue. There is a taxonomic difference between human and nonhuman organisms, but such factors as (...)
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  21. Marc Ereshefsky (2002). Linnaean Ranks: Vestiges of a Bygone Era. Proceedings of the Philosophy of Science Association 2002 (3):S305-S315.
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  22. M. Ereshefsky (2001). Names, Numbers and Indentations: A Guide to Post-Linnaean Taxonomy. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 32 (2):361-383.
    The vast majority of biological taxonomists use the Linnaean system when constructing classifications. Taxa are assigned Linnaean ranks and taxon names are devised according to the Linnaean rules of nomenclature. Unfortunately, the Linnaean system has become theoretically outdated. Moreover, its continued use causes a number of practical problems. This paper begins by sketching the ontological and practical problems facing the Linnaean system. Those problems are sufficiently pressing that alternative systems of classification should be investigated. A number of proposals for an (...)
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  23. Marc Ereshefsky (2001). The Poverty of the Linnaean Hierarchy: A Philosophical Study of Biological Taxonomy. Cambridge University Press.
    The question of whether biologists should continue to use the Linnaean hierarchy is a hotly debated issue. Invented before the introduction of evolutionary theory, Linnaeus's system of classifying organisms is based on outdated theoretical assumptions, and is thought to be unable to provide accurate biological classifications. Marc Ereshefsky argues that biologists should abandon the Linnaean system and adopt an alternative that is more in line with evolutionary theory. He traces the evolution of the Linnaean hierarchy from its introduction to the (...)
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  24. Marc Ereshefsky (1998). Species Pluralism and Anti-Realism. Philosophy of Science 65 (1):103-120.
    Species pluralism gives us reason to doubt the existence of the species category. The problem is not that species concepts are chosen according to our interests or that pluralism and the desire for hierarchical classifications are incompatible. The problem is that the various taxa we call 'species' lack a common unifying feature.
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  25. Marc Ereshefsky (1997). Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life Daniel Dennett New York: Simon and Schuster, 1995, 586 Pp., $40.00. [REVIEW] Dialogue 36 (03):639-.
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  26. Marc Ereshefsky (1997). The Evolution of the Linnaean Hierarchy. Biology and Philosophy 12 (4):493-519.
    The Linnaean system of classification is a threefold system of theoretical assumptions, sorting rules, and rules of nomenclature. Over time, that system has lost its theoretical assumptions as well as its sorting rules. Cladistic revisions have left it less and less Linnaean. And what remains of the system is flawed on pragmatic grounds. Taking all of this into account, it is time to consider alternative systems of classification.
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  27. Marc Ereshefsky (1995). Critical Notice. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 25 (1):143-158.
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  28. Marc Ereshefsky (1995). The Disorder of Things. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 25 (1):143-158.
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  29. Marc Ereshefsky (1994). Pluralism, Normative Naturalism, and Biological Taxonomy. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1994:382 - 389.
    Several authors have argued for taxonomic pluralism in biology -the position that there is a plurality of equally legitimate classifications of the organic world. Others have objected that such pluralism boils down to a position of anything goes. This paper offers a response to the anything goes objection by showing how one can be a discerning pluralist. In particular, methodological standards for choosing taxonomic projects are derived using Laudan's normative naturalism. This paper also sheds light on why taxonomic pluralism (...)
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  30. Marc Ereshefsky (1994). Some Problems with the Linnaean Hierarchy. Philosophy of Science 61 (2):186-205.
    Most biologists use the Linnaean system for constructing classifications of the organic world. The Linnaean system, however, has lost its theoretical basis due to the shift in biology from creationist and essentialist tenets to evolutionary theory. As a result, the Linnaean system is both cumbersome and ontologically vacuous. This paper illustrates the problems facing the Linnaean system, and ends with a brief introduction to an alternative approach to biological classification.
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  31. Marc Ereshefsky & Peter James (1994). The Units of Evolution: Essays on the Nature of Species. History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 16 (2):355.
     
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  32. Marc Ereshefsky (1993). Elliott Sober, Reconstructing the Past: Parsimony, Evolution, and Inference Reviewed By. Philosophy in Review 13 (3):122-123.
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  33. Marc Ereshefsky (1992). Eliminative Pluralism. Philosophy of Science 59 (4):671-690.
    This paper takes up the cause of species pluralism. An argument for species pluralism is provided and standard monist objections to pluralism are answered. A new form of species pluralism is developed and shown to be an improvement over previous forms. This paper also offers a general foundation on which to base a pluralistic approach to biological classification.
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  34. Marc Ereshefsky (1991). Species, Higher Taxa, and the Units of Evolution. Philosophy of Science 58 (1):84-101.
    A number of authors argue that while species are evolutionary units, individuals and real entities, higher taxa are not. I argue that drawing the divide between species and higher taxa along such lines has not been successful. Common conceptions of evolutionary units either include or exclude both types of taxa. Most species, like all higher taxa, are not individuals, but historical entities. Furthermore, higher taxa are neither more nor less real than species. None of this implies that there is no (...)
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  35. Marc Ereshefsky (1991). The Metaphysics of Evolution. [REVIEW] Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 22 (3):525-532.
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  36. Marc Ereshefsky (1991). The Metaphysics of Evolution: David Hull,(Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1989), Viii+ 331 Pp., ISBN 0-7914-0211-8 Hardback $73.50, Paperback $24.95. Michael Ruse (Ed.), What the Philosophy of Biology Is: Essays Dedicated to David Hull (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1989), Ix+ 337 Pp., ISBN 90-247-3778-8 Hardback Dfl 180.00/$99.00/£ 59.00. [REVIEW] Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 22 (3):525-532.
     
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  37. Marc Ereshefsky (1991). The Semantic Approach to Evolutionary Theory. Biology and Philosophy 6 (1):59-80.
    Paul Thompson, John Beatty, and Elisabeth Lloyd argue that attempts to resolve certain conceptual issues within evolutionary biology have failed because of a general adherence to the received view of scientific theories. They maintain that such issues can be clarified and resolved when one adopts a semantic approach to theories. In this paper, I argue that such conceptual issues are just as problematic on a semantic approach. Such issues arise from the complexity involved in providing formal accounts of theoretical laws (...)
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  38. Marc Ereshefsky (1990). Book Review:Toward a New Philosophy of Biology Ernst Mayr. [REVIEW] Philosophy of Science 57 (4):725-.
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  39. Marc Ereshefsky (1989). Where's the Species? Comments on the Phylogenetic Species Concepts. Biology and Philosophy 4 (1):89-96.
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  40. Marc Ereshefsky (1988). Axiomatics and Individuality: A Reply to Williams' "Species Are Individuals". Philosophy of Science 55 (3):427-434.
    In her "Species Are Individuals" (1985), Mary Williams offers informal arguments and a sketched proof which allegedly show that species are individuals with respect to evolutionary theory. In this paper, I suggest that her informal arguments are insufficient for showing that clans are not sets and that species are individuals. I also argue that her sketched proof depends on three questionable assumptions.
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  41. Marc Ereshefsky (1988). Individuality and Macroevolutionary Theory. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1988:216 - 222.
    A number of authors have argued that the thesis that species are individuals has important implications for macroevolutionary theory. More specifically, some authors claim that the thesis lends support to the Theory of Punctuated Equilibrium and indicates the existence of species selection. In this paper, I argue that the alleged individuality of species is neither necessary nor sufficient for the truth of that theory or for the existence of species selection. I also argue, contrary to the claims of some, that (...)
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