Skip to content

Buy my books

The Nature of Classification, with Malte Ebach, from Palgrave Macmillan.

The Nature of Classification discusses an old and generally ignored issue in the philosophy of science: natural classification. It argues for classification to be a sometimes theory-free activity in science, and discusses the existence of scientific domains, theory-dependence of observation, the inferential relations of classification and theory, and the nature of the classificatory activity in general. It focuses on biological classification, but extends the discussion to physics, psychiatry, meteorology and other special sciences.

“If you have ever been envious of physics, with its well-respected experimental background and theoretical conceptualization, or if you are unhappy with a lifelong struggle to enliven biological classification with Popperian robes, then this new book about The Nature of Classification deserves your attention.” Alessandro Minelli, Systematic Biology

Species: A History of the Idea from University of California Press. First edition

Species: The Evolution of the Idea from CRC Press. Second edition 2018

“Does Wilkins deliver on his promise? Does the ‘essentialism story’ capture the essence of the centuries old debate about ‘what is a species’? Wilkins delivers a resounding NO, and he does so in a highly accessible language. This will be important especially for the biologists and paleontologists among his readers, who get a clear exposition of sometimes difficult to understand philosophical issues underlying logical versus biological classification. This is well born out by the laudatory remarks printed on the back cover from a prominent paleontologist and ornithologist [Joel Cracraft]” Review at Metascience [by Olivier Rieppel]

“Provides a comprehensive and interesting synthesis of the species problem today in the context of changing ideologies through history.” Review at Journal of Human Evolution book blog.

“Provides an encyclopedic history of the idea of species from Plato to the present.”—Darwinian Conservatism Blog

“Wilkins writes this in a very readable manner, his style being both precise and relaxed. Like all good historians, he has a new perspective on the concept of species, and how that concept has evolved, in terms of both transformation and increasing diversification through time. The book does provide a critical framework by linking species concepts together into a historical network.” Review at Integrative and Comparative Biology. (James Mallet)

“Wilkins’ book takes us on a ride through history, during which we are introduced to the different conceptions. Wilkins writes this in a very readable manner, his style being both precise and relaxed. Indeed, he may well be the most readable philosopher that I have ever come across, as I hardly ever needed to use a dictionary to understand his words.

“The important point to emphasize about the book is that it is about history rather than about philosophy or biology. Wilkins knows the relevant biology and philosophy as well as anyone else, and this knowledge is never far away, but the book is about the history of ideas rather than about modern debates (philosophical or biological) about those ideas. The reader will learn a lot of biology and a lot of philosophy, but sieved through an historical perspective.” Review at Systematic Biology [by David Morrison]

Review at National Science Teachers Association [Review by Diane Beechinor]

Defining Species: A Sourcebook from Antiquity to Today from Peter Lang Press

Review at CHOICE, August 2010, vol 47: No. 11  [By J. A. Hewlett]

Intelligent Design and Religion as a Natural Phenomenon, Ashgate Publishing. August 2010.