A nineteenth century view on classification

The principle upon which I understand the Natural System of Botany to be founded is, that the affinities of plants may be determined by a consideration of all the points of resemblance between their various parts, properties, and qualities; that thence an arrangement may be deduced in which those species will be placed next each Read More…

Wilkins on philosophy of science

As part of the Science Week activities that informed the last few posts, I will be giving a brief introduction to philosophy of science as well as talking about the relation between science and religion shortly. The organiser of this event (on 23 August, at the East Melbourne Unitarian Church) is Adam Ford, who interviewed Read More…

The origins of “speciation”

As I do some research on the history of speciation theories, I came across this, which is perhaps the original coining of the term: Evolution is a process of organic change and development, universal and continuous, and due to causes resident in species. Speciation, to give the other process a name, is the origination or Read More…

Natural classification

It occurs to me that I haven’t plugged my own book here. What a failure on my part! It was published in December, so it is really time I did so. In this book, Malte Ebach and I discuss a topic not often discussed in the philosophy of science: the classification of nature in the Read More…

Why anti science?

Over the past few decades there has been an increasingly negative attitude by governments, pundits, religiosi and faux philosophers against science. We have seen an increase in denialism about climate change (one of the most well supported scientific models of the day), vaccination, evolution, medical research in general, and the ancillary aspects of science like Read More…

NSW removes protection for marine parks

I received this from NYU CUNY philosopher Peter Godfrey-Smith: The NSW government recently decided to temporarily lift the ban on line fishing in NSW marine sanctuaries. They may well decide to make the new regime permanent, effectively abolishing all real marine sanctuaries in the state. This is such a bad step backwards. I’ve heard that Read More…

Articles of faith: The theological and philosophical origins of the concept of species

It takes a while for the implications of one’s own work to sink in. In my 2009 book Species, a History of the Idea (see here), I argued that the notion that before Darwin people were essentialistic and fixist about species was false. A recent paper by Jack Powers about Mayr’s misreading of Plato complements an earlier Read More…