A Unified Approach to Species

John Collier
University of KwaZulu-Natal
There are a number of different species concepts currently in use. The variety results from differing desiderata and practices of taxonomists, ecologists and evolutionary theorists. Recently, arguments have been presented for pluralism about species. I believe this is unsatisfactory, however, because of the central role of species in biological theory. Taking the line that species are individuals, I ask what might individuate them. In other work I have argued that dynamical systems are individuated by their cohesion. I present here a version of a cohesion concept of species that accounts for the advantages of other species concepts, and is open-ended enough to accommodate additions to or changes in biological theory. On my account biological forces combine like Newtonian forces, to work on a common locus. Just as we might have an electromagnetic system, we might have an ecological species, if the dominant source of cohesion is ecology, but there is no certainty that biological species will divide up into elegant single principle types anymore than there is for physical systems
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