Biology and Philosophy

, Volume 18, Issue 5, pp 621–638 | Cite as

How to be a chaste species pluralist-realist: the origins of species modes and the synapomorphic species concept

  • John S. Wilkins
Article

Abstract

The biological species (biospecies) concept applies only to sexually reproducing species, which means that until sexual reproduction evolved, there were no biospecies. On the universal tree of life, biospecies concepts therefore apply only to a relatively small number of clades, notably plants andanimals. I argue that it is useful to treat the various ways of being a species (species modes) as traits of clades. By extension from biospecies to the other concepts intended to capture the natural realities of what keeps taxa distinct, we can treat other modes as traits also, and so come to understand that theplurality of species concepts reflects the biological realities of monophyletic groups.We should expect that specialists in different organisms will tend to favour those concepts that best represent the intrinsic mechanisms that keep taxa distinct in their clades. I will address the question whether modes ofreproduction such as asexual and sexual reproduction are natural classes, given that they are paraphyletic in most clades.

Biological species concept Essentialism, Isolation concepts Monism, Monophyly, Natural groups Natural kinds, Realism Species pluralism 

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • John S. Wilkins
    • 1
  1. 1.History and Philosophy of Science and School of BotanyThe University of MelbourneSomervilleAustralia

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