50 words for snow 5: constructing phenomena

There is a naive empiricist view held by nobody on close inspection, that phenomena merely present themselves to the observer, and call for explanation. At least since Kant, such a view has been untenable, as Michela Massimi has shown. As she notes, it is well understood that phenomena are underdetermined by observational data, and she Read More…

A current list of species concepts

As part of my book, I have updated the list of species concepts. Thought you lot might like this: Species conceptions Basic Convention Taxonomic species [TSC] Diagnostic Morphospecies [MSC] Genealogy Evolutionary species [ESC] [Monophyly] Phylospecies [PSC] Gene-based Genetic species [GSC] Reproductive reach Biospecies [BSC] Ecological niche Ecospecies [EcSC] Replacement concepts Operational Taxonomic Units Least Inclusive Read More…

Another chapter on religion done

Readers will recall I had a series on why people believe silly things… This is now a book chapter, with extra added citation goodness and many footnotes, although I haven’t yet resorted to Terry Pratchett’s practice of doing footnotes to the footnotes. Not yet. The book is New Developments in the Cognitive Science of Religion: Read More…

YAD (yet another delay)

So, I have been lax in posting lately. I ate’nt dead. I have been checking the proofs for my book, revising a chapter in a book, and revising a paper on species (or the lack of them as a theoretical category). Also, I’ve been running the AAHPSSS website and helping with the conference. Which is Read More…

50 words for snow 4; species

All classificatory terms are impossible of exact definition. Their use always has and always will depend upon the consensus of opinion of those best qualified by wisdom, experience and natural good sense. They will never become stable; we shall never cease to amend, to change, to repudiate old and propose new, because we shall never Read More…

Species: The evolution of the idea

My revised book is now titled Species: The evolution of the idea, and now contains a philosophy section as well as a complete list of species concept[ion]s and an appendix of all taxonomic levels I could locate. It is due out in February 2018 from CRC Press. I have done a complete revision of all sections Read More…

50 words for snow: addendum 3a, or what counts as sociocultural?

Jim Harrison made the following comment on the last post: … I have trouble understanding how you distinguish the s and the c in your pseudo equation. You mention folk taxonomic as an example of sociological distinctions, but if such taxonomies aren’t part of culture, what’s left to put under c Maybe distinguishing s and Read More…

I have updated my blogroll

It was very sad to see how many of my favourite blogs and sites no longer exist, but I checked them all. If you have any blogs I should add to this list, let me know.

50 words for snow 3: what are phenomena?

If experienced observers are trained to observe natural phenomena in their environment, pace the “interference” of cultural accidents, what is it they observe? As I mentioned before, we are not born into a world of ready made phenomena. William James referred to the sensory world of a newborn baby as a “blooming, buzzing confusion”: Experience, from Read More…

50 words for snow 2: or, the economics of cultural categories

Humans evolved in a world where knowing whether an animal was an antelope or a lion was essential for their survival: they could eat the antelope, and they could be eaten by the lion. Accordingly, the human mind seems to have evolved to organize its knowledge of the natural world into sets of related categories Read More…