The classifications of living beings

In Applied Ontology. pp. 197--217 (2008)
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This chapter proceeds in five steps. First, we will describe and justify the structure of the traditional system of species classification. Second, we will discuss three formal principles governing the development of taxonomies in general. It will emerge that, in addition to these formal principles, a division of living beings must meet certain empirical constraints. In the third section, we will show that the traditional division of living beings into species best meets these constraints. Fourth, we will argue that a taxonomic system based on this notion of species provides a more natural alternative to the many arbitrary classifications that are possible. Hence, the traditional classificatory system is also the most natural one. Finally, we will discuss and reject an alternative account that suggests defining species solely with a view to their evolutionary history. We will argue that taxonomic trees do not depict hereditary connections but, rather, something else.

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Boris Hennig
Ryerson University


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