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The Theory of EvolutionPrinciples, Concepts, and Assumptions$
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Samuel M. Scheiner and David P. Mindell

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226671024

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226671338.001.0001

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The Nature of Species in Evolution

The Nature of Species in Evolution

(p.102) Six The Nature of Species in Evolution
The Theory of Evolution

Marco J. Nathan

Joel Cracraft

University of Chicago Press

Much has been written about the so-called “species problem," which can be broadly characterized as the task of providing a functional species concept that picks out the “right” kind of entities. Yet, to date, no general consensus has been achieved on the individuation and definition of species, or whether a unique solution to the species problem exists. Some have gone as far as questioning whether contemporary biology requires species concepts at all. The goal of this chapter is to shed some light on the sources of the disagreement. It begins by drawing attention to two distinct ways species figure in biology, namely, as units of classification and units of evolution. Next, it introduces the so-called species problem and discusses a variety of ontological issues that pertain to the nature and role of species in evolutionary theory. The second part of the chapter explores the interface between philosophical considerations and how species are conceived and used in biology.

Keywords:   species, species problem, units of classification, units of evolution, ontology

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