Coming to Berkeley

I’ll be in Berkeley (California, in case there’s another one somewhere) from around the 9th to the 15th of March, to give a talk to the Mellon-Sawyer series Speciesism and the Future of Humanity. Anyone who wants an unemployed philosopher to give a talk to their group also, or just buy him a meal, should Read More…

Did Popper and Quine invent “Aristotelian essentialism”?

There are many narratives told about evolution. One of the most widely told is the Essentialism Story, replayed in textbook, popular storytelling and philosophy alike. It goes like this: Before Darwin, biologists were constrained by essentialist thinking, in which they were committed to species being natural kinds where there were essential characters shared by every Read More…

The difference between population concepts and “population thinking”

The late Ernst Mayr is remembered for many things, but a number of his historical and philosophical claims are unravelling. The very clever and perspicacious Rutgers geneticist, Jody Hey, has published a paper in the Quarterly Review of Biology on one of these. Jody is a very good reader of history as well as being Read More…

A busy fortnight

So, I have been rather active for the last fortnight (that’s two weeks for Americans). I visited Canberra to work on a species concept paper with a colleague, Brent Mishler. I attended a philosophy of biology workshop in Bundanoon, a sleepy little town outside Sydney. I got a love kiss from a huntsman spider there Read More…

Competition winners

In case people did not notice my announcement in the comments of that post, the winners of a signed copy of my species history book are: Cameron Peters Doug G Elais Jackson Jesse Schaefer Lorax sbh Send me an email with your addresses. I will send the books as soon as I can locate the moving Read More…

Rise of the Planet of the Moralists 4: Predicting traits

Rise of the Planet of the Moralists Series1: Introduction2: Chains and Trees 3: Clades and grades4: Predicting traits5: Social dominance and power Species have typical traits, anatomically. There is, however, a bit of a myth that before Darwin people thought species had essences which were invariant for all organisms within them. Since this myth was first put forward in the Read More…

Rise of the Planet of the Moralists 3: clades and grades

Rise of the Planet of the Moralists Series1: Introduction2: Chains and Trees 3: Clades and grades4: Predicting traits5: Social dominance and power Note: My researchers readers have inundated provided me with all kinds of interesting references (hi Jeb and Jocelyn). One that is particularly interesting is this book. It appears to make many of the Read More…