Individuality, History and Laws of Nature in Biology

  • Michael T. Ghiselin
Part of the Nijhoff International Philosophy Series book series (NIPS, volume 32)


David Hull and I approached the problem of the ontological status of species from very different directions, and a long time elapsed before our views on such matters converged. Early in my career as a comparative anatomist I found myself involved in the philosophy of systematic biology. Some authors had argued from a nominalistic position, and maintained that species, being classes, are not ‘real’. I pointed out that this argument rested on false premises. To me it seemed obvious that species are individuals, not classes, and their names have to be defined ostensively (Ghiselin 1966, 1969). At first Hull, who approached taxonomic theory from the point of view of analytical philosophy, did not find this solution attractive. We exchanged a long series of letters, in which I presented arguments based upon analogies and counter-examples, but to no avail


Physical Science Mutation Pressure Synthetic Theory False Premise Heat Conservation 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael T. Ghiselin
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.California Academy of SciencesSan FranciscoUSA
  2. 2.Wissenschaftskolleg zu BerlinBerlinGermany

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