Biology and Philosophy

, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 339–356 | Cite as

A (not-so-radical) solution to the species problem

  • Bradley E. Wilson


What are species? One popular answer is that species are individuals. Here I develop another approach to thinking about species, an approach based on the notion of a lineage. A lineage is a sequence of reproducing entities, individuated in terms of its components. I argue that one can conceive of species as groups of lineages, either organism lineages or population lineages. Conceiving of species as groups of lineages resolves the problems that the individual conception of species is supposed to resolve. It has added the virtue of focusing attention on the characteristic of species that is most relevant to understanding their role in evolutionary processes, namely, the lineage structure of species.

Key words

Species lineage individual class evolution organism population 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bradley E. Wilson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of History and Philosophy of ScienceUniversity of PittsburghPittsburgh

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