Understanding scientific types: holotypes, stratotypes, and measurement prototypes

Biology and Philosophy 35 (5):1-28 (2020)
  Copy   BIBTEX


At the intersection of taxonomy and nomenclature lies the scientific practice of typification. This practice occurs in biology with the use of holotypes (type specimens), in geology with the use of stratotypes, and in metrology with the use of measurement prototypes. In this paper I develop the first general definition of a scientific type and outline a new philosophical theory of types inspired by Pierre Duhem. I use this general framework to resolve the necessity-contingency debate about type specimens in philosophy of biology, to advance the debate over the myth of the absolute accuracy of standards in metrology, and to address the definition-correlation debate in geology. I conclude that just as there has been a productive synergy between philosophical accounts of natural kinds and scientific taxonomic practices, so too there is much to be gained from developing a deeper understanding of the practices and philosophy of scientific types.

Similar books and articles

Property evaluation types.Alessandro Giordani & Luca Mari - 2012 - Measurement 45 (3):437-452.
How to misidentify a type specimen.Matthew H. Haber - 2012 - Biology and Philosophy 27 (6):767-784.
The complete Duhemian underdetermination argument: scientific language and practice.Karen Merikangas Darling - 2002 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 33 (3):511-533.
Objectivity, Historicity, Taxonomy.Joeri Witteveen - 2018 - Erkenntnis 83 (3):445-463.
The type-token distinction and the mind and brain sciences.Carsten Griesel - 2008 - Reduction and the Special Sciences (Tilburg, April 10-12, 2008).
The galaxy of the non-Linnaean nomenclature.Alessandro Minelli - 2019 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 41 (3):31.
Prototype Proofs in Type Theory.Giuseppe Longo - 2000 - Mathematical Logic Quarterly 46 (2):257-266.
Comments on David Hull's Paper on Exemplars and Type Specimens.Ernst Mayr - 1982 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1982:504 - 511.


Added to PP

524 (#33,636)

6 months
115 (#31,667)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Alisa Bokulich
Boston University

Citations of this work

Cats are not necessarily animals.Margarida Hermida - 2024 - Erkenntnis 89 (4):1387-1406.

Add more citations

References found in this work

Natural Kinds and Conceptual Change.Joseph LaPorte - 2003 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Natural Kinds and Conceptual Change.Joseph Laporte - 2005 - Philosophical Quarterly 55 (221):672-674.
How Accurate Is the Standard Second?Eran Tal - 2011 - Philosophy of Science 78 (5):1082-1096.

View all 16 references / Add more references