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Synthese

, Volume 131, Issue 2, pp 191–213 | Cite as

Darwinian Metaphysics: Species And The Question Of Essentialism

  • Samir Okasha
Article

Abstract

Biologists and philosophers of biology typically regard essentialism about speciesas incompatible with modern Darwinian theory. Analytic metaphysicians such asKripke, Putnam and Wiggins, on the other hand, believe that their essentialist thesesare applicable to biological kinds. I explore this tension. I show that standard anti-essentialist considerations only show that species do not have intrinsic essential properties. I argue that while Putnam and Kripke do make assumptions that contradict received biological opinion, their model of natural kinds, suitably modified, is partially applicable to biological species. However, Wiggins' thesis that organisms belong essentially to their species is untenable, given modern species concepts. I suggest that Putnam's, Kripke's and Wiggins' errors stem from adopting an account of the point of scientific classification which implies that relationally-defined kinds are likely to be of little value, an account which is inapplicable to biology.

Keywords

Natural Kind Essential Property Biological Species Species Concept Scientific Classification 
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.

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Samir Okasha
    • 1
  1. 1.Instituto de Investigaciones FilosoficasUniversidad Nacional Autonoma de MéxicoCoyoacan, México D.F.Mexico

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