Just lately I have been trying to support my belief that species are not units of biological theory, but phenomena that call for explanation. Several things have followed from this:
- Species turn out on this view not to be causal entities, but rather epiphenomena of causal processes at the individual and populational levels. Species don’t cause anything (apart from thoughts in the minds of taxonomists)
- If species are phenomenal objects, what is a phenomenal object? Is it an ordinary object that
- Is refined into a theoretical entity under something like entity realism?
- Is divided into things that are theoretical entities once we get the right theories, leading to theoretical pluralism (or explanatory pluralism, depending how you parse that)?
- Is deflated into a non-entity that is replaced with theoretical entities?
- And just what is a phenomenon anyway? How is it different from data (a distinction that Bogen and Woodward made, and which is implicit I think in van Fraassen’s new book)? Is a phenomenon just an aggregate of data or is data one end of a continuum of which phenomena are the other end?
- Can phenomena be untheoretical?
Some of this stuff will be familiar to those who are recently educated in the philosophy of science, but a lot of it has passed me by since I did philosophy of science in the late 80s. So I would appreciate any help anyone can give me.