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Darwin’s solution to the species problem

Abstract

Biologists and philosophers that debate the existence of the species category fall into two camps. Some believe that the species category does not exist and the term ‘species’ should be eliminated from biology. Others believe that with new biological insights or the application of philosophical ideas, we can be confident that the species category exists. This paper offers a different approach to the species problem. We should be skeptical of the species category, but not skeptical of the existence of those taxa biologists call ‘species.’ And despite skepticism over the species category, there are pragmatic reasons for keeping the word ‘species.’ This approach to the species problem is not new. Darwin employed a similar strategy to the species problem 150 years ago.

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Correspondence to Marc Ereshefsky.

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Ereshefsky, M. Darwin’s solution to the species problem. Synthese 175, 405–425 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11229-009-9538-4

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11229-009-9538-4

Keywords

  • Darwin
  • Species
  • Species problem
  • Species category
  • Family resemblance
  • General lineage concept
  • Homeostatic property cluster theory