Nicolai Hartmann and the Metaphysical Foundation of Phylogenetic Systematics

Biological Theory 7 (1):56-68 (2013)
Authors
Frederic Tremblay
Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University
Abstract
When developing phylogenetic systematics, the entomologist Willi Hennig adopted elements from Nicolai Hartmann’s ontology. In this historical essay I take on the task of documenting this adoption. I argue that in order to build a metaphysical foundation for phylogenetic systematics, Hennig adopted from Hartmann four main metaphysical theses. These are (1) that what is real is what is temporal; (2) that the criterion of individuality is to have duration; (3) that species are supra-individuals; and (4) that there are levels of reality, each of which may be subject to different kinds of law. Reliance on Hartmann’s metaphysics allowed Hennig to ground some of the main theoretical principles of phylogenetic systematics, namely that the biological categories—from the semaphoront to the highest rank—have reality and individuality despite not being universals, and that they form a hierarchy of levels, each of which may require different kinds of explanation. Hartmann’s metaphysics thereby provided a philosophical justification for Hennig’s phylogenetic systematics, both as a theory and as a method of classification.
Keywords Nicolai Hartmann  Willi Hennig  Metaphysics  Ontology  Phylogenetic Systematics  Phylogeny  Philosophy of Biology  Levels of Reality  Species  20th Century German Philosophy
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DOI 10.1007/s13752-012-0077-8
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References found in this work BETA

Phylogenetic Systematics.Willi Hennig - 1966 - University of Illinois Press.
Species: A History of the Idea.John S. Wilkins - 2009 - Univ of California Pr.
Emergent Evolution.C. Lloyd Morgan - 1923 - Williams & Norgate.

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