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Species Problems and Beyond
Contemporary Issues in Philosophy and Practice





ISBN 9781032221472
Published June 15, 2022 by CRC Press
382 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Species Problems and Beyond offers a collection of up-to-date essays discussing from an interdisciplinary perspective the many ramifications of the ‘Species Problem.’ The authors represent experts in the philosophy of biology, in species-level evolutionary investigations, and in biodiversity studies and conservation. Some of the topics addressed concern the context sensitivity of the term ‘species’; species as individuals, processes, natural kinds, or as ‘operative concepts’; species delimitation in the age of Big (genomic) Data; and taxonomic inflation and its consequences for conservation strategies. The carefully edited volume will be an invaluable resource for philosophers of biology and evolutionary biologists alike.

– Olivier Rieppel, Rowe Family Curator of Evolutionary Biology, Negaunee Integrative Research Center, Field Museum, USA

Species, or ‘the Species Problem’, is a topic in science, in the philosophy of science, and in general philosophy. In fact, it encompasses many aspects of the same problem, and these are dealt with in this volume. Species are often thought of as fundamental units of biological matter to be used in ecology, conservation, classification, and biodiversity. The chapters in this book present opposing views on the current philosophical and conceptual issues of the Species Problem in biology.

Divided into four sections, Concepts and Theories, Practice and Methods, Ranks and Trees and Names, and Metaphysics and Epistemologies, the book is authored by biologists, philosophers, and historians, many leaders in their fields. Topics include ontology of species, definitions of both species category and units, species rank, speciation issues, nomenclature, ecology, and species conservation.

Species Problems and Beyond aims to clarify the contemporary issues of the Species Problem. It is ideal for use in upper-level seminars and courses in Evolutionary Biology, Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Biology, Systematics and Taxonomy, and Phylogenetics/Cladistics, and for any scholar in these fields.

Table of Contents

Section 1. Concepts and theories

Chapter 1. We Are Nearly Ready to Begin the Species Problem 

Matthew J. Barker 

Chapter 2. Is the Species Problem That Important? 

Yuichi Amitani 

Chapter 3. ‘Species’ as a technical term: Multiple meanings in practice, one idea in theory 

Thomas A.C. Reydon 

Chapter 4. What Should Species Be? Taxonomic Inflation and the Ethics of Splitting and Lumping 

Jay Odenbaugh  

Chapter 5. The Good Species 

John S. Wilkins 

Section 2. Practice and methods

Chapter 6. Species in the Time of Big Data: The Multi-species Coalescent, the General Lineage Concept, and Species Delimitation 

Aleta Quinn 

Chapter 7. Species delimitation using molecular data 

Megan L. Smith, Bryan C. Carstens 

Chapter 8. Taxonomic order, disorder and governance 

Stijn Conix, Stephen T. Garnett, Frank E. Zachos, Les Christidis  

Section 3. Ranks and trees and names

Chapter 9. Ecology, evolution, and systematics in a post-species world 

Brent D. Mishler 

Chapter 10. The species before and after Linnaeus – tension between disciplinary nomadism and conservative nomenclature 

Alessandro Minelli  

Chapter 11. Taxonomic hierarchies as a tool for coping with the complexity of biodiversity 

Julia D. Sigwart   

Section 4. Metaphysics and epistemologies

Chapter 12. The species problem from a conceptualist’s viewpoint 

Igor Ya. Pavlinov 

Chapter 13. (Some) Species are Processes 

John Dupré 

Chapter 14. Metaphysical presuppositions about species stability: problematic and unavoidable 

Catherine Kendig 

Chapter 15. Critique of taxonomic reason(ing): nature’s joints in light of an ‘Honest’ Species Concept and Kurt Hübner’s historistic philosophy of science 

Frank E. Zachos 

Afterword

Chapter 16. Continuing After Species: An Afterword 

Robert A. Wilson 

 

 

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Editor(s)

Biography

John Wilkins did his PhD at the University of Melbourne. He has since researched and taught at the University of Queensland, the University of Sydney, the University of New South Wales, and the University of Melbourne. He has published several books: Species: A History of the Idea (2009) and its successor Species: The Evolution of the Idea (2018), Defining Species (2009), The Nature of Classification (2013, with Malte C. Ebach), and edited Intelligent Design and Religion as a Natural Phenomenon (2010). John is currently Subject Coordinator at the University of Melbourne School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, where he has previously been a research fellow. His interests include species conceptions (obviously), the history of biology, philosophy and sociology of religion, phenomena, evolution, taxonomy and Terry Pratchett’s oeuvre. He has not published on the last listed.

Frank E. Zachos is Head of the Mammal Collection at the Natural History Museum in Vienna, Austria, and an affiliated Professor at the Department of Genetics, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa. His interests include molecular and morphological approaches in microevolutionary studies on mammals, with a taxonomic focus on ungulates, particularly cervids, and birds of prey. He carries out research in the fields of population genetics, molecular (mostly intraspecific) systematics and phylogeography, developmental homeostasis and fluctuating asymmetry as well as conservation genetics and the Quaternary distribution history of mammals and birds. His theoretical interests comprise species concepts, the foundations of taxonomy and systematics and the history and theory of (evolutionary) biology.

Igor Ya. Pavlinov was, until his retirement in 2018, leading researcher and the chief of the Mammal Division at the Zoological Museum at the Lomonosov Moscow State University. His DrS dissertation was "Cladistic approach in phylogenetics and taxonomy: theoretical foundations of evolutionary cladistics" (1997). He is still affiliated with the Zoological Museum, where he is a curator of mammals. His principal research interests are in theoretical taxonomy and phylogenetics, systematics of mammals (mainly rodents), morphometrics.

Reviews

Species Problems and Beyond offers a collection of up-to-date essays discussing from an interdisciplinary perspective the many ramifications of the ‘Species Problem.’ The authors represent experts in the philosophy of biology, in species-level evolutionary investigations, and in biodiversity studies and conservation. Some of the topics addressed concern the context sensitivity of the term ‘species’; species as individuals, processes, natural kinds, or as ‘operative concepts’; species delimitation in the age of Big (genomic) Data; and taxonomic inflation and its consequences for conservation strategies. The carefully edited volume will be an invaluable resource for philosophers of biology and evolutionary biologists alike.

-- Olivier Rieppel, Rowe Family Curator of Evolutionary Biology, Negaunee Integrative Research Center, Field Museum, USA

 

The idea of species, and the things in nature we call species, are foundational concepts in ecology and evolutionary biology, and central to our understanding of the natural world and how it is organized. This book brings philosophers and biologists together to drill down on the nature of species. It demonstrates that the problem of species, and its role in biological theory and practice, is more complex than most biologists realize, and it also highlights the spectrum of insights, and differences, that philosophers bring to this problem. It articulates new perspectives for both disciplines.

-- Joel Cracraft, Lamont Curator and Curator-in-Charge, Department of Ornithology, American Museum of Natural History, USA

 

Just when we thought there was noting more to say about 'the species problem,' this volume presents us with new approaches and reopens old debates in fruitful ways. By broadening the context to 'species problems and beyond,' the diverse contributions in this edited collection allows philosophers to reconsider classic debates and concepts in this domain but also provides perspectives on parallel debates within biological practices as well as critical historical reflections. This may be the volume that helps even those of us who tend to (productively) dislike these debates to grapple anew with species problems.

-- Rachel A. Ankeny, Professor, School of Humanities, The University of Adelaide, Australia

 

What is the species problem? Is it one problem, or several? Has it been solved, or, are we just getting started? If these questions are of interest to you, this is a fantastic place to start. The volume is composed of essays by scholars at the leading edge of their field. The authors are - by and large - philosophers of science, but it is a book that should be of interest to both philosophers and biologists. The "species problem" as it’s become known, is actually several problems, and the editors and authors deftly parse these problems, setting out competing solutions, and offering novel perspectives, and considering wider implications, such as concerning conservation. I highly recommend the volume to faculty, graduate students, and scholars with interests in species, conservation, metaphysics, and conceptual change in science, more generally.

-- Anya Plutynski, Washington University in St. Louis, US