Species: The evolution of the idea

I have completed and submitted the manuscript now for my revision of Species: A history of the idea, now renamed Species: the evolution of the idea. I am publishing it with CRC Press, and it is due out next year. In addition to updating and revising the historical sections of the book, I have added Read More…

Noah’s Ark and the creation of the species rank

This is a section of my forthcoming revision to Species, presented here for comments that I can steal – umm, I mean for peer commentary. At this point in our narrative, we still do not have a uniquely biological notion of species, nor of a fixed rank in logic. As species concepts evolved, at some point both of Read More…

Are species life forms?

This is a section of my forthcoming revision to Species, presented here for comments that I can steal – umm, I mean for peer commentary. The philosophical ideas and terms of Wittgenstein have played an interesting and underappreciated role in the species debate: we saw Beckner appeal to family resemblance predicates, and Pigliucci revive that, Read More…

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…

Speciation – A brief history: The late eighteenth century

After Linnaeus had settled on the older mechanism of hybridisation of genera with other genera or with varieties formed by geographical conditions as the cause of new species, the topic began to pick up speed. Hybridisation remained the usual method as late as the 1830s (e.g., in Lindley) but two developments were crucial in the Read More…

Are species theoretical objects?

[Note: this is a paper that has sat in my drawer for a while now. I am posting it to follow from my last post on the theological origins of species. If species are not ranks in biology, what are they?] It is often claimed that species are the units of evolution, but this is 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…