Biology and Philosophy

, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 49–66

Species, sets, and the derivative nature of Philosophy

  • Leigh M. Van Valen

DOI: 10.1007/BF00127628

Cite this article as:
Van Valen, L.M. Biol Philos (1988) 3: 49. doi:10.1007/BF00127628


Concepts and methods originating in one discipline can distort the structure of another when they are applied to the latter. I exemplify this mostly with reference to systematic biology, especially problems which have arisen in relation to the nature of species. Thus the received views of classes, individuals (which term I suggest be replaced by “units” to avoid misunderstandings), and sets are all inapplicable, but each can be suitably modified. The concept of fuzzy set was developed to deal with species and I defend its applicability. Taxa at all levels are real and participate in biological processes. Analysis of cause and pattern provides the deep structure in which metabiology is grounded; violation of this principle has led to diverse errors in biology.

Key words

Concept transfer species sets 

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leigh M. Van Valen
    • 1
  1. 1.Biology Dept. (Whitman)University of ChicagoChicagoU.S.A.

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