Kant, Linnaeus, and the economy of nature

Download Edit this record How to cite View on PhilPapers
Ecology arguably has roots in eighteenth-century natural histories, such as Linnaeus's economy of nature, which pressed a case for holistic and final-causal explanations of organisms in terms of what we'd now call their environment. After sketching Kant's arguments for the indispensability of final-causal explanation merely in the case of individual organisms, and considering the Linnaean alternative, this paper examines Kant's critical response to Linnaean ideas. I argue that Kant does not explicitly reject Linnaeus's holism. But he maintains that the indispensability of final-causal explanation depends on robust modal connections between types of organism and their functional parts; relationships in Linnaeus's economy of nature, by contrast, are relatively contingent. Kant's framework avoids strong metaphysical assumptions, is responsive to empirical evidence, and can be fruitfully compared with some contemporary approaches to biological organization.
PhilPapers/Archive ID
Upload history
Archival date: 2021-03-27
View other versions
Added to PP

72 (#59,992)

6 months
29 (#29,685)

Historical graph of downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks on external links on PhilPapers.
How can I increase my downloads?