We are Nearly Ready to Begin the Species Problem

In John S. Wilkins, Frank E. Zachos & Igor Ya Pavlinov (eds.), Species Problems and Beyond: Contemporary Issues in Philosophy and Practice. Boca Raton, FL: Routledge: Taylor & Francis Group. pp. 3-38 (2022)
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Abstract

This paper isolates a hard, long-standing species problem: developing a comprehensive and exacting theory about the constitutive conditions of the species category, one that is accurate for most of the living world, and which vindicates the widespread view that the species category is of more theoretical import than categories such as genus, sub-species, paradivision, and stirp. The paper then uncovers flaws in several views that imply we have either already solved that hard species problem or dissolved it altogether – so-called We Are Done views. In doing so the paper offers new criticisms of the general lineage species concept (GLSC), evolutionary species concept (EvSC), biological species concept (BSC), other similar concepts, Ereshefsky’s eliminative pluralism about the species category, and both Mishler’s pessimism and Wilkins’ phenomenalism about that category. Opposed to We Are Done views, the paper argues for a Revving Up view, on which we are nearly ready to begin the hard species problem in earnest. To help work towards these conclusions, the paper begins with an outline of a new kind of view of species (Barker 2019a), which proposes they are feedback systems of a mathematically specifiable and empirically testable sort.

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Matt Barker
Concordia University

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