Biology and Philosophy 27 (6):767-784 (2012)

Matt Haber
University of Utah
Type specimens are used to designate species. What is the nature of the relation between a type specimen and the species it designates? If species names are rigid designators, and type specimens ostensively define species, then that relation is, at the very least, a close one. Levine :325–338, 2001) argues that the relationship of type specimen to a named species is one of necessity—and that this presents problems for the individuality thesis. Namely, it seems odd that a contingently selected specimen should belong to a species of necessity. In considering Levine’s argument, LaPorte suggests that recognizing the distinction between de re and de dicto necessity resolves Levine’s worries. I reconsider the motivating question: does a type specimen belong of necessity to the species that it designates? In light of taxonomic cases and practice the answer is clear: definitively not. This is particularly clear in the case of re-designation of types by taxonomic decree. I explain how this helps reveal how taxonomists prioritize competing theoretical commitments, and offer a defense of the individuality thesis as applied to these particular cases. In short, I demonstrate how to misidentify a type specimen.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s10539-012-9336-0
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 71,248
External links

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

Meaning and Reference.Hilary Putnam - 1973 - Journal of Philosophy 70 (19):699-711.
A Matter of Individuality.David L. Hull - 1978 - Philosophy of Science 45 (3):335-360.
Species.Philip Kitcher - 1984 - Philosophy of Science 51 (2):308-333.
Evolution, Population Thinking, and Essentialism.Elliott Sober - 1980 - Philosophy of Science 47 (3):350-383.

View all 26 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

I—A More Radical Solution to the Race Problem.Quayshawn Spencer - 2019 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 93 (1):25-48.
Individual Essentialism in Biology.Michael Devitt - 2018 - Biology and Philosophy 33 (5-6):39.
The Individuality Thesis (3 Ways).Matthew H. Haber - 2016 - Biology and Philosophy 31 (6):913-930.

View all 12 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

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.
What is the Type-1/Type-2 Distinction?Nick Chater - 1997 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 20 (1):68-69.
Clavis Universalis ; a Specimen of True Philosophy.Arthur Collier - 1837 - In Samuel Parr (ed.), Metaphysical Tracts. Routledge/Thoemmes Press.
On Finding Solutions to Ethical Problems in Agriculture.Harvey S. James - 2002 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 16 (5):439-457.
On Finding Solutions to Ethical Problems in Agriculture.Harvey S. James - 2003 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 16 (5):439-457.


Added to PP index

Total views
63 ( #183,106 of 2,518,495 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
3 ( #205,898 of 2,518,495 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes