Biology and Philosophy

, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 79-96

First online:

Pre-Darwinian Taxonomy and Essentialism – A Reply to MaryWinsor

  • David N. StamosAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy, York University Email author 

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Mary Winsor (2003) argues against the received view that pre-Darwinian taxonomy was characterized mainly by essentialism. She argues, instead, that the methods of pre-Darwinian taxonomists, in spite of whatever their beliefs, were that of clusterists, so that the received view, propagated mainly by certain modern biologists and philosophers of biology, should at last be put to rest as a myth. I argue that shes right when it comes to higher taxa, but wrong when it comes the most important category of all, the species category.


cluster classes essentialism history species taxonomy Winsor