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Synthese

, Volume 164, Issue 2, pp 161–184 | Cite as

Species in three and four dimensions

  • Thomas A. C. ReydonEmail author
Article

Abstract

There is an interesting parallel between two debates in different domains of contemporary analytic philosophy. One is the endurantism–perdurantism, or three-dimensionalism vs. four-dimensionalism, debate in analytic metaphysics. The other is the debate on the species problem in philosophy of biology. In this paper I attempt to cross-fertilize these debates with the aim of exploiting some of the potential that the two debates have to advance each other. I address two issues. First, I explore what the case of species implies regarding the feasibility of particular positions in the endurantism– perdurantism debate. I argue that the case of species casts doubt on the recent claim that three-dimensionalism and four-dimensionalism are equivalent descriptions of the same underlying reality. Second, and conversely, I examine whether the metaphysical worry about three-dimensionalism and four-dimensionalism can help us to better understand the nature of biological species. I show that analyzing the thesis that species are individuals against the background of the endurantism–perdurantism debate allows us to explicate two different ways in which this thesis can be interpreted.

Keywords

Endurantism Four-dimensionalism Perdurantism Species-are-individuals thesis Species problem Three-dimensionalism 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Philosophy and Ethics of Science (ZEWW)Leibniz University of HannoverHannoverGermany

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