Advertisement

Erkenntnis

, Volume 81, Issue 4, pp 795–816 | Cite as

The Mystery of the Triceratops’s Mother: How to be a Realist About the Species Category

  • Adrian Mitchell Currie
Original Article
  • 459 Downloads

Abstract

Can we be realists about a general category but pluralists about concepts relating to that category? I argue that paleobiological methods of delineating species are not affected by differing species concepts, and that this underwrites an argument that species concept pluralists should be species category realists. First, the criteria by which paleobiologists delineate species are ‘indifferent’ to the species category. That is, their method for identifying species applies equally to any species concept. To identify a new species, paleobiologists show that interspecies processes, such as phenotypic plasticity (including pathology), sexual dimorphism, or ontogenetic diversity, are a worse explanation of the variance between specimens than intraspecies processes. As opposed to operating under a single or plurality of species concepts, then, paleobiologists use abductive inferences, which would be required regardless of any particular species concept. Second, paleobiologists are frequently interested in large-scale, long-term morphological patterns in the fossil record, and resolving the fine-grained differences which result from different species concepts is irrelevant at those scales. I argue that this claim about paleobiological practice supports what I call ‘indifference realism’ about the species category. The indifference realist argues that when legitimate investigation is indifferent to a plurality of concepts, we should be realists about the category those concepts pertain to.

Keywords

Scientific Practice Species Concept Species Category Biological Species Concept Virtuous Agent 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgments

Brandan Holter, David Liebesman, Marc Ereshefsky and two anonymous referees provided extremely helpful feedback, as did the audience at the 2014 Boston Colloquim on philosophy of paleontology.

References

  1. Andam, C. P., Williams, D., & Gogarten, J. P. (2010). Natural taxonomy in light of horizontal gene transfer. Biology and Philosophy, 25(4), 589–602.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Archibald, J. D., Clemens, W. A., Padian, K., Rowe, T., Macleod, N., Barrett, P. M. et al. (2010). Cretaceous extinctions: multiple causes. Science (New York, NY), 328(5981), 973–975.Google Scholar
  3. Avise, J. C., & Wollenberg, K. (1997). Phylogenetics and the origin of species. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 94(15), 7748–7755. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bapteste, E., & Burian, R. M. (2010). On the need for integrative phylogenomics, and some steps toward its creation. Biology and Philosophy, 25(4), 711–736.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bapteste, E., O’Malley, M. A., Beiko, R. G., Ereshefsky, M., Gogarten, J. P., Franklin-Hall, L., et al. (2009). Prokaryotic evolution and the tree of life are two different things. Biology Direct, 4(1), 34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Barham, L. (2004). Some initial informal reactions to publication of the discovery of Homo floresiensis and replies from Brown & Morwood. Before Farm, 4, 1–7.Google Scholar
  7. Baum, D. A., & Shaw, K. L. (1995). Genealogical perspectives on the species problem. Experimental and molecular approaches to plant biosystematics, 53, 289–303.Google Scholar
  8. Benton, M. J. (1999). The history of life: large databases in palaeontology. In Numerical Palaeobiology (pp. 249–283). NY: Wiley.Google Scholar
  9. Block, N. J., & Fodor, J. A. (1972). What psychological states are not. The Philosophical Review, 81, 159–181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Brigandt, I. (2003). Species pluralism does not imply species eliminativism. Philosophy of Science, 70(5), 1305–1316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Currie, P. J. (1998). Possible evidence of gregarious behavior in tyrannosaurids. Gaia, 15, 271–277.Google Scholar
  12. De Queiroz, K. (1999). The general lineage concept of species and the defining properties of the species category. In R. Wilson (Ed.), Species: New Interdisciplinary Essays (pp. 49–89). Boston: MIT.Google Scholar
  13. Dobzhansky, T. (1937). Genetics and the origin of species. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Dupré, J. (1993). The disorder of things: Metaphysical foundations of the disunity of science. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Dupré, J. (1999). On the impossibility of a monistic account of species. In R. A. Wilson (Ed.), Species: New interdisciplinary essays (pp. 3–22). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  16. Ereshefsky, M. (1998). Species pluralism and anti-realism. Philosophy of Science, 65(1), 103–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Ereshefsky, M. (2001). The poverty of the linnaean hierarchy: A philosophical study of biological taxonomy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Ereshefsky, M. (2010). Microbiology and the species problem. Biology and Philosophy, 25(4), 553–568.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Erickson, G. M., Makovicky, P. J., Currie, P. J., Norell, M. A., Yerby, S. A., & Brochu, C. A. (2004). Gigantism and comparative life-history parameters of tyrannosaurid dinosaurs. Nature, 430(7001), 772–775.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Farlow, J. O. (1990) Dinosaur energetics and thermal biology. In Weishampel, D., & Osmolska (Eds.), The Dinosauria (pp. 43–55). Berkely: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  21. Fodor, J. A. (1974). Special sciences (or: the disunity of science as a working hypothesis). Synthese, 28(2), 97–115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Funk, D. J., & Omland, K. E. (2003). Species-level paraphyly and polyphyly: Frequency, causes, and consequences, with insights from animal mitochondrial DNA. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics, 34, 397–423.Google Scholar
  23. Ghiselin, M. (1987). Species concepts, individuality, and objectivity. Biology and Philosophy, 2, 127–143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Horner, J. R., & Lamm, E. T. (2011). Ontogeny of the parietal frill of Triceratops: A preliminary histological analysis. Comptes Rendus Palevol, 10(5), 439–452.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hull, D. (1988). Science as a Process. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Joyce, W. G., Micklich, N., Schaal, S. F., & Scheyer, T. M. (2012). Caught in the act: The first record of copulating fossil vertebrates. Biology Letters, 8(5), 846–848.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Kitcher, P. (1984). Species. Philosophy of Science, 51, 308–333.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lewis, D. (1978). Truth in fiction. American Philosophical Quarterly, 15(1), 37–46.Google Scholar
  29. Longrich, N. R., & Field, D. J. (2012). Torosaurus is not Triceratops: Ontogeny in chasmosaurine ceratopsids as a case study in dinosaur taxonomy. PLoS ONE, 7(2), e32623.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Maiorino, L., Farke, A. A., Kotsakis, T., & Piras, P. (2013). Is Torosaurus Triceratops? Geometric morphometric evidence of late maastrichtian ceratopsid dinosaurs. PLoS ONE, 8(11), e81608.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Mayr, E. (1942). Systematics and the origin of species from the viewpoint of a zoologist. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Mishler, B., & Brandon, R. (1987). Individuality, pluralism, and the phylogenetic species concept. Biology and Philosophy, 2, 397–414.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. O’Malley, M., & Dupré, J. (2007). Size doesn’t matter: Towards a more inclusive philosophy of Biology. Biology and Philosophy, 22, 155–191.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Paterson, H. (1985). The recognition concept of species. In Vrba (Ed.), Species and speciation (pp. 21–29). Pretoria: Transvall Museum.Google Scholar
  35. Pian, R., Archer, M., & Hand, S. J. (2013). A new, giant platypus, Obdurodon tharalkooschild, SP. Nov. (Monotremata, Ornithorhynchidae) from the Riversleigh world heritage area, Australia. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 33, 1255–1259.Google Scholar
  36. Putnam, H. (1967). Psychological predicates. In W. Capitan & D. Merrill (Eds.), Art, Mind, and Religion (pp. 37–48). Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.Google Scholar
  37. Reydon, T. A. C. (2004). Why does the species problem still persist? BioEssays, 26, 300–305. doi: 10.1002/bies.10406.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Roberts, E. M., Sampson, S. D., Deino, A., & Bowring, S. (in press). The Kaiparowits Formation: A remarkable record of Late Cretaceous terrestrial environments, ecosystems and evolution in Western North America. In A. L. Titus and M. A. Loewen (Eds.), Advances in western interior late cretaceous paleontology and geology. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Google Scholar
  39. Rosenberg, A. (1994). Instrumental Biology or the Disunity of Science. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  40. Scannella, J. B., & Horner, J. R. (2010). Torosaurus Marsh, 1891, is Triceratops Marsh, 1889 (Ceratopsidae: Chasmosaurinae): Synonymy through ontogeny. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 30(4), 1157–1168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Scannella, J. B., & Horner, J. R. (2011). ‘Nedoceratops’: An example of a transitional morphology. PLoS ONE, 6(12), e28705.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Schott, R. K., Evans, D. C., Goodwin, M. B., Horner, J. R., Brown, C. M., & Longrich, N. R. (2011). Cranial ontogeny in Stegoceras validum (Dinosauria: Pachycephalosauria): A quantitative model of pachycephalosaur dome growth and variation. PLoS ONE, 6(6), e21092.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Schulte, P., Alegret, L., Arenillas, I., Arz, J. A., Barton, P. J., Bown, P. R., et al. (2010). The Chicxulub asteroid impact and mass extinction at the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary. Science, 327(5970), 1214–1218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Sober, E. (1984). Sets, species, and natural kinds: A reply to Philip Kitcher’s ‘species’. Philosophy of Science, 51, 334–341.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Stanford, P. (1995). For Pluralism and Against Realism about Species. Philosophy of Science 62, 70–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Stanford, P. K. (2006). Exceeding our grasp: Science, history, and the problem of unconceived alternatives. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  47. Tattersall, I. (2013). Higher taxa: Reply to cartmill. Evolutionary Anthropology, 22, 293.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Turner, D. D. (2009). How much can we know about the causes of evolutionary trends? Biology and Philosophy, 24(3), 341–357.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Turner, D. D. (2011). Paleontology: A philosophical introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Wilkins, J. (2003). How to be a chaste species pluralist-realist. Biology and Philosophy, 18, 621–638.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Wilkins, J. (2009). Species: The history of the idea. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy DepartmentUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

Personalised recommendations