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…

Henry Gee’s book “The Accidental Species”

I have three rules in life. One is, Never get into a land war in Asia. The second is, Locate the nearest exit. The third and most important is: When Henry Gee writes something, believe it. I first encountered Henry through his book In Search of Deep Time, which covered a field of science that Read More…

Ooh! Shiny!

Just got the draft cover art of my new book with Malte Ebach: I designed the logo myself… clever, hey?

My latest paper

Science & Education, February 2013, Volume 22, Issue 2, pp 221-240 Biological Essentialism and the Tidal Change of Natural Kinds John S. Wilkins Abstract The vision of natural kinds that is most common in the modern philosophy of biology, particularly with respect to the question whether species and other taxa are natural kinds, is based on a revision of Read More…

The relation of classification to abductive reasoning

In my last post, commentator DiscoveredJoys raised the question of abductive reasoning and how it relates to my claim that classification is basically pattern recognition. It’s a fair question. First I’ll repeat my response, and then go into it a little more. In my view, abduction is larger in scope than pattern recognition (PR). PR Read More…

Pattern recognition: neither deduction nor induction

It occurs to me as I read Rosenberg’s Philosophy of Science (2005), that we tend in that field to classify epistemic activities into two kinds: induction (about which we have many arguments as to its warrantability) and deduction (with many arguments about its applicability). But I believe there is something else that we do to learn about Read More…

Evopsychopathy 2: The phylogenetic bracket

As noted, SB and EP have a very unfortunate tendency to reflect the status quo in their results and research questions. This is not unique to them. History, sociology, other fields of psychology (psychotherapy for gods’ sake!), and in my own profession, ethics, all have this “Pull of Privilege”. Somehow the results of this research Read More…