Essentialism, history, and biological taxa

de Queiroz (1995), Griffiths (1999) and LaPorte (2004) offer a new version of essentialism called "historical essentialism". According to this version of essentialism, relations of common ancestry are essential features of biological taxa. The main type of argument for this essentialism proposed by Griffiths (1999) and LaPorte (2004) is that the dominant school of classification, cladism, defines biological taxa in terms of common ancestry. The goal of this paper is to show that this argument for historical essentialism is unsatisfactory: cladism does not assume that relations of common ancestry are essential attributes of biological taxa. Therefore, historical essentialism is not justified by cladism.
Keywords historical essentialism  cladism  biological taxa  natural kinds
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsc.2011.10.019
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David L. Hull (1978). A Matter of Individuality. Philosophy of Science 45 (3):335-360.
Marc Ereshefsky (2010). Species. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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