Species in three and four dimensions

  title={Species in three and four dimensions},
  author={Thomas A. C. Reydon},
There is an interesting parallel between two debates in different domains of contemporary analytic philosophy. One is the endurantism–perdurantism, or three-dimensionalism vs. four-dimensionalism, debate in analytic metaphysics. The other is the debate on the species problem in philosophy of biology. In this paper I attempt to cross-fertilize these debates with the aim of exploiting some of the potential that the two debates have to advance each other. I address two issues. First, I explore… 

On radical solutions in the philosophy of biology: What does “individuals thinking” actually solve?

It is argued that naturalistic metaphysicians of biology should think of the metaphysical status of theoretical entities, such as species and life, as fundamentally theory-dependent, which implies a metaphysical pluralism, that allows that in some theories species, life, and other such entities may feature as individuals, whereas in others they may features as kinds.

Species Pluralism: Conceptual, Ontological, and Practical Dimensions

Species are central to biology, but there is currently no agreement on what the adequate species concept should be, and many have adopted a pluralist stance: different species concepts will be

Species and kinds: a critique of Rieppel’s “one of a kind” account of species

  • Thomas A. C. Reydon
  • Philosophy
    Cladistics : the international journal of the Willi Hennig Society
  • 2009
This paper critiques Rieppel's approach to natural kindhood and argues that it does not deliver what it is supposed to, namely an account of species as kinds about which generalized statements can be made.

Conceptual Relativity in Science

This chapter discusses three case studies of conceptual relativity in scientific practice and their philosophical implications. I argue that scientists with different explanatory interests often

Why the Debate about the Metaphysics of Biological Species Should Not Be Deflated

Some philosophers of biology state that the metaphysical status of biological species is context determined by the use different branches of biology make of their corresponding proper names, so

Making sense of nature conservation after the end of nature

  • Elena Casetta
  • Philosophy
    History and philosophy of the life sciences
  • 2020
This contribution will try to provide an account of the natural/artificial distinction suited to contemporary conservation framing and propose and defend the view of “naturalness as independence” according to which the more or less an environmental object's identity conditions and survival depend on human intervention, the moreor less that object is artificial or natural, respectively.

Gene Names as Proper Names of Individuals: An Assessment

It is argued that the principal arguments in support of the gene-individuality thesis are much less compelling than the parallel arguments in the species case, and that gene names refer to kinds, defined primarily by causal-role functions.

Can We Really Re-create an Extinct Species by Cloning? A Metaphysical Analysis

As a contraction of ‘museum’ and ‘genomics’, museomics refers to the new area of research by large-scale analysis of the DNA sequences preserved in specimens from museum collections all around the world.

Classification below the species level: when are infraspecific groups biologically meaningful?

Examining which types of infraspecific groups are biologically meaningful in light of the main results from the species debate aims to contribute to greater clarity about issues.

Biomedical ontologies: toward scientific debate.

Analysis of a large number of problems with biomedical ontologies suggests that the field is very much open to alternative interpretations of current work, and in need of scientific debate and discussion that can lead to new ideas and research directions.



On the nature of the species problem and the four meanings of 'species'.

  • Thomas A. C. Reydon
  • Philosophy, Environmental Science
    Studies in history and philosophy of biological and biomedical sciences
  • 2005

The Metaphysical Equivalence Of Three And Four Dimensionalism

AbstractI argue that two competing accounts of persistence, three and four dimensionalism, are in fact metaphysically equivalent. I begin by clearly defining three and four dimensionalism, and then I

Species: New Interdisciplinary Essays

This book differs from other recent collections in two ways: it is more explicitly integrative and analytical, centering on issues of general significance such as pluralism and realism about species, and draws on a broader range of disciplines.

Species, languages, and the horizontal/vertical distinction

It is concluded that this trend within this family of phylogenetic species concepts that attempts to restore the priority of the horizontal dimension should be affirmed and that the species-as-individuals view should be abandoned.

Persistence and Space-Time: Philosophical Lessons of the Pole and Barn

Although considerations based on contemporary space-time theories, such as special and general relativity, seem highly relevant to the debate about persistence, their significance has not been duly

Central Subjects and Historical Narratives

At first glance, the changes in contemporary philosophy of science necessary to accommodate the intuitions of historians about historiography are as great as those required in Aristotelian science by

On the Metaphysics of Species*

  • J. Crane
  • Philosophy
    Philosophy of Science
  • 2004
This paper explains the metaphysical implications of the view that species are individuals (SAI). I first clarify SAI in light of the separate distinctions between individuals and classes,

Individuality and adaptation across levels of selection: how shall we name and generalize the unit of Darwinism?

  • S. GouldE. Lloyd
  • Biology
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
  • 1999
It is shown here that different features define Darwinian individuality across scales of size and time, and that species-individuals may develop few emergent features as direct adaptations.

The Ontological Status of Species as Evolutionary Units

The species problem was of some importance ages ago in the philosophical dispute between nominalists and essentialists or a century ago in biology when Darwin introduced his theory of organic evolution, but it certainly is of no contemporary interest.

Different species problems and their resolution.

  • K. de Queiroz
  • Environmental Science
    BioEssays : news and reviews in molecular, cellular and developmental biology
  • 2005
The proposals in question provide the opportunity for biology to move beyond debates about the definition of the species category and focus on estimating the boundaries and numbers of species as well as studying the diverse processes involved in their origin and persistence.