Philosophy & Technology

, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 427–441 | Cite as

The Extinction and De-Extinction of Species

  • Helena SiipiEmail author
  • Leonard Finkelman
Research Article


In this paper, we discuss the following four alternative ways of understanding the outcomes of resurrection biology (also known as de-extinction). Implications of each of the ways are discussed with respect to concepts of species and extinction. (1) Replication: animals created by resurrection biology do not belong to the original species but are copies of it. The view is compatible with finality of extinction as well as with certain biological and ecological species concepts. (2) Re-creation: animals created are members of the original species but, despite their existence, the species remains extinct. The view is incompatible with all species concepts presented. (3) Non-extinction: animals produced belong to the original species which actually never went extinct. The view may be consistent with phenetic and phylogenetic species concepts as well as with finality of extinction. (4) According to literal resurrection, resurrection biology is successful in reversing extinction through the creation of new members of species that once went extinct. This view presupposes non-finality of extinction and it is compatible with phenetic species concepts. It is notable that no species or extinction concept is consistent with all possible views of resurrection biology nor is any view of resurrection biology consistent with all species or extinction concepts. Thus, one’s views regarding species and extinction determine which views one can adopt regarding resurrection biology and vice versa.


Resurrection biology De-extinction Concept of species Concept of extinction 



We thank two anonymous referees for their useful comments on the earlier version of the paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy UnitUniversity of TurkuTurkuFinland
  2. 2.Linfield CollegeMcMinnvilleUSA

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