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  1. Olivier Rieppel (2013). Biological Individuals and Natural Kinds. Biological Theory 7 (2):162-169.
    This paper takes a hierarchical approach to the question whether species are individuals or natural kinds. The thesis defended here is that species are spatiotemporally located complex wholes (individuals), that are composed of (i.e., include) causally interdependent parts, which collectively also instantiate a homeostatic property cluster (HPC) natural kind. Species may form open or closed genetic systems that are dynamic in nature, that have fuzzy boundaries due to the processual nature of speciation, that may have leaky boundaries as is manifest (...)
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  2. Olivier Rieppel, David M. Williams & Malte C. Ebach (2013). Adolf Naef (1883–1949): On Foundational Concepts and Principles of Systematic Morphology. [REVIEW] Journal of the History of Biology 46 (3):445-510.
    During the early twentieth century, the Swiss Zoologist Adolf Naef (1883–1949) established himself as a leader in German comparative anatomy and higher level systematics. He is generally labeled an ‘idealistic morphologist’, although he himself called his research program ‘systematic morphology’. The idealistic morphology that flourished in German biology during the first half of the twentieth century was a rather heterogeneous movement, within which Adolf Naef worked out a special theoretical system of his own. Following a biographical sketch, we present an (...)
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  3. Olivier Rieppel (2012). Karl Beurlen (1901-1985), Nature Mysticism, and Aryan Paleontology. Journal of the History of Biology 45 (2):253 - 299.
    The relatively late acceptance of Darwinism in German biology and paleontology is frequently attributed to a lingering of Lamarckism, a persisting influence of German idealistic Naturphilosophie and Goethean romanticism. These factors are largely held responsible for the vitalism underlying theories of saltational and orthogenetic evolutionary change that characterize the writings of many German paleontologists during the first half of the 20th century. A prominent exponent of that tradition was Karl Beurlen, who is credited with having been the first German paleontologist (...)
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  4. Olivier Rieppel (2011). Against Species Essentialism. Metascience 20 (2):339-341.
    Against species essentialism Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11016-010-9448-6 Authors Olivier Rieppel, Department of Geology, The Field Museum, 1400 South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60605-2496, USA Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
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  5. Olivier Rieppel (2011). Hugo Dingler (1881–1954) and the Philosophical Foundation of the German Evolutionary Synthesis. Biological Theory 6 (2):162-168.
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  6. Olivier Rieppel (2011). Species Are Individuals—the German Tradition. Cladistics 27 (6):629-645.
    The German tradition of considering species, and higher taxonomic entities, as individuals begins with the temporalization of natural history, thus pre-dating Darwin’s ‘Origin’ of 1859. In the tradition of German Naturphilosophie as developed by Friedrich Schelling, species came to be seen as parts of a complex whole that encompasses all (living) nature. Species were comprehended as dynamic entities that earn individuality by virtue of their irreversible passage through time. Species individuality was conceived in terms of species taxa forming a spatiotemporally (...)
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  7. Olivier Rieppel (2011). Wilhelm Troll (1897-1978): Idealistic Morphology, Physics, and Phylogenetics. History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 33 (3).
  8. Olivier Rieppel (2010). New Essentialism in Biology. Philosophy of Science 77 (5):662-673.
    The architects of the modern synthesis banned essentialism from evolutionary theory. This rejection of essentialism was motivated by Darwin’s theory of natural selection, and the continuity of evolutionary transformation. Contemporary evolutionary biology witnesses a renaissance of essentialism in three contexts: “origin essentialism” with respect to species and supraspecific taxa, the bar coding of species on the basis of discontinuities of DNA variation between populations, and the search for laws of evolutionary developmental biology. Such “new essentialism” in contemporary biology must be (...)
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  9. Olivier Rieppel (2010). The Series, the Network, and the Tree: Changing Metaphors of Order in Nature. Biology and Philosophy 25 (4):475-496.
    The history of biological systematics documents a continuing tension between classifications in terms of nested hierarchies congruent with branching diagrams (the ‘Tree of Life’) versus reticulated relations. The recognition of conflicting character distribution led to the dissolution of the scala naturae into reticulated systems, which were then transformed into phylogenetic trees by the addition of a vertical axis. The cladistic revolution in systematics resulted in a representation of phylogeny as a strictly bifurcating pattern (cladogram). Due to the ubiquity of character (...)
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  10. Olivier Rieppel (2009). Reydon on Species, Individuals and Kinds: A Reply. Cladistics 26 (4):341-343.
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  11. Olivier Rieppel (2009). Species as a Process. Acta Biotheoretica.
    Species are generally considered to be the basic units of evolution, and hence to constitute spatio-temporally bounded entities. In addition, it has been argued that species also instantiate a natural kind. Evolution is fundamentally about change. The question then is how species can remain the same through evolutionary change. Proponents of the species qua individuals thesis individuate species through their unique evolutionary origin. Individuals, or spatio-temporally located particulars in general, can be bodies, objects, events, or processes, or a combination of (...)
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  12. Olivier Rieppel (2009). Species Monophyly. Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research 48 (1):1-8.
    In biological systematics, as well as in the philosophy of biology, species and higher taxa are individuated through their unique evolutionary origin. This is taken by some authors to mean that monophyly is a (relational) property not only of higher taxa, but also of species. A species is said to originate through speciation, and to go extinct when it splits into two daughter species (or through terminal extinction). Its unique evolutionary origin is said to bestow identity on a species through (...)
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  13. Olivier Rieppel (2009). 'Total Evidence' in Phylogenetic Systematics. Biology and Philosophy 24 (5):607-622.
    Taking its clues from Popperian philosophy of science, cladistics adopted a number of assumptions of the empiricist tradition. These include the identification of a dichotomy between observation reports and theoretical statements and its subsequent abandonment on the basis of the insight that all observation reports are theory-laden. The neglect of the ‘context of discovery’, which is the step of theory (hypothesis) generation. The emphasis on coherentism in the ‘context of justification’, which is the step of evaluation of the relative merits (...)
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  14. Olivier Rieppel (2008). Do Clades Cladogenerate? Biological Theory 3 (4):375-379.
  15. Olivier Rieppel (2008). Re-Writing Popper's Philosophy of Science for Systematics. History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 30 (3/4):293 - 316.
    This paper explores the use of Popper's philosophy of science by cladists in their battle against evolutionary and numerical taxonomy. Three schools of biological systematics fiercely debated each other from the late 1960s: evolutionary taxonomy, phenetics or numerical taxonomy, and phylogenetic systematics or cladistics. The outcome of that debate was the victory of phylogenetic systematics/cladistics over the competing schools of thought. To bring about this "cladistic turn" in systematics, the cladists drew heavily on the philosopher K.R. Popper in order to (...)
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  16. Olivier Rieppel (2007). Parsimony, Likelihood, and Instrumentalism in Systematics. Biology and Philosophy 22 (1):141-144.
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  17. Olivier Rieppel & Maureen Kearney (2007). The Poverty of Taxonomic Characters. Biology and Philosophy 22 (1):95-113.
    The theory and practice of contemporary comparative biology and phylogeny reconstruction (systematics) emphasizes algorithmic aspects but neglects a concern for the evidence. The character data used in systematics to formulate hypotheses of relationships in many ways constitute a black box, subject to uncritical assessment and social influence. Concerned that such a state of affairs leaves systematics and the phylogenetic theories it generates severely underdetermined, we investigate the nature of the criteria of homology and their application to character conceptualization in the (...)
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  18. Olivier Rieppel (2005). Monophyly, Paraphyly, and Natural Kinds. Biology and Philosophy 20 (2-3):465-487.
    A long-standing debate has dominated systematic biology and the ontological commitments made by its theories. The debate has contrasted individuals and the part – whole relationship with classes and the membership relation. This essay proposes to conceptualize the hierarchy of higher taxa is terms of a hierarchy of homeostatic property cluster natural kinds (biological species remain largely excluded from the present discussion). The reference of natural kind terms that apply to supraspecific taxa is initially fixed descriptively; the extension of those (...)
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  19. Olivier Rieppel (2001). Preformationist and Epigenetic Biases in the History of the Morphological Character Concept. In G. P. Wagner (ed.), The Character Concept in Evolutionary Biology. Academic Press.
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  20. Olivier Rieppel (2001). Turtles as Hopeful Monsters. Bioessays 23 (11):987-991.
    A recently published study on the development of the turtle shell(1) highlights the important role that development plays in the origin of evolutionary novelties(1). The evolution of the highly derived adult anatomy of turtles is a prime example of a macroevolutionary event triggered by changes in early embryonic development. Early ontogenetic deviation may cause patterns of morphological change that are not compatible with scenarios of gradualistic, stepwise transformation.
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  21. Olivier Rieppel (1990). Structuralism, Functionalism, and the Four Aristotelian Causes. Journal of the History of Biology 23 (2):291 - 320.
  22. Olivier Rieppel (1988). Louis Agassiz (1807–1873) and the Reality of Natural Groups. Biology and Philosophy 3 (1):29-47.
    The philosophy of pattern cladism has been variously explained by reference to the work of Louis Agassiz. The present study analyzes Agassiz's attempt to combine an empirical approach to the study of nature with an idealistic philosophy. From this emerges the problem of empiricism and of the isomorphy between the order of nature and human thinking. The analysis of the writings of Louis Agassiz serves as the basis for discussion of the reality of natural groups as postulated by pattern cladists.
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  23. Olivier Rieppel (1988). The Reception of Leibniz's Philosophy in the Writings of Charles Bonnet (1720-1793). Journal of the History of Biology 21 (1):119 - 145.
  24. Olivier Rieppel & Elliott Sober, What's Wrong with the New Biological Essentialism.
    The received view in 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 paper critically evaluates the new biological essentialism. The paper’s thesis is that the costs of adopting the new biological essentialism are many, yet the benefits are none. So there (...)
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