Evolution, Population Thinking, and Essentialism

  title={Evolution, Population Thinking, and Essentialism},
  author={Elliott Sober},
  journal={Philosophy of Science},
  pages={350 - 383}
  • E. Sober
  • Published 1 September 1980
  • Philosophy
  • Philosophy of Science
Ernst Mayr has argued that Darwinian theory discredited essentialist modes of thought and replaced them with what he has called "population thinking". In this paper, I characterize essentialism as embodying a certain conception of how variation in nature is to be explained, and show how this conception was undermined by evolutionary theory. The Darwinian doctrine of evolutionary gradualism makes it impossible to say exactly where one species ends and another begins; such line-drawing problems… 
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