Species and Taxonomy

Richard A. Richards

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Biology

Published in print July 2008 | ISBN: 9780195182057
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

Species and Taxonomy

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This article deals with biological systematics including ontological and taxonomic questions. Ontological questions are concerned with the nature of species and the taxonomic question is about how we should classify biodiversity. Evolutionary taxonomists determine homology through the use of process assumptions in functional analysis but cladistic phylogeneticists reject the use of such assumptions, arguing that theoretical assumptions can only be confirmed by evolutionary history. The species problem that arises is about the basic entities in organic nature. First, there are different theoretical concepts that make inconsistent assertions about the nature of species. Second, there are different and inconsistent operational grouping rules. Apparent intractability of the species problem leads philosophers to turn to pluralism which provides two ideas. The first idea is the division of conceptual labor and the second idea is the thesis that species are individuals.

Keywords: ontology; taxonomy; assumptions; functional analysis; species; organic nature; individuals

Article.  12252 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Philosophy of Science

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