Whately on species

Given the mythology that species were defined by essences prior to Darwin found in nearly every textbook, I find this passage, published in 1826 by Archbishop Richard Whately (1787–1863), first in the Encyclopaedia Metropolitana (a project initially proposed by Coleridge) and then as a separate textbook, very telling. Whately was Archbishop of Dublin in the Read More…

New species book contract!

Hi all. I have signed a new contract with Taylor and Francis for my revision of the species book, which is now to be known as Species: The History and Philosophy of the Idea. Much will be new in it – I will be fixing and expanding on many topics, adding an entire review of the Read More…

Prichard on species 2

James Prichard wrote his Researches into the physical history of mankind in 1813, in which he argued not only that humanity was a single species (a view called monogenism), but that they were effectively the same in their intelligence and faculties. In the course of this, he spoke repeatedly about what counted as a species. In the Read More…

Species Rewrite

I’m thinking of doing a rewrite of Species: A History of the Idea. Do my readers have any suggestions or wishes for it? Let me know in the comments. Some ideas: Make the subtitle and the content: The History and Philosophy of the Idea More stuff on the 15th century More on the modern debates More Read More…

A new (and apparently excellent) book on species concepts

We interrupt our ordinary transmission to note the forthcoming publication of an excellent (based on what I can read online) book on species concepts by Frank Zachos of the Natural History Museum (Naturhistorische Museum) in Vienna. I haven’t seen the full book yet, but look out for it.

My latest publication

Book ReviewMetasciencepp 1-4 First online: 15 June 2016 Drawing the tree of life J. David Archibald: Aristotle’s ladder, Darwin’s tree: The evolution of visual metaphors for biological order. New York: Columbia University Press, 2014, 256 pp, US$65.00/£45.00 HB John S. Wilkins  

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…