Saturday, September 02, 2006

The Species Problem

Pope Benedict XVI is holding a 3-day symposium with his former students; this year's topic? Evolution. I'll be waiting to see if any statements or interviews are published after the symposium is over. I think it would be best for nothing to be said, but undoubtedly someone will offer his perspective. "There is no conflict between religion and science." "The question of evolution is one that deserves special attention and further inquiry." etc. etc.

Amy Welborn's most recent post. Zenit article with Fr. Rafael Pascual providing some comments. Fr. Pascual is dean of philosophy at Regina Apostolorum in Rome, the Legionary university. He concedes the use of the word "science" to modern science and its method and presuppositions. I don't. Good philosophizing is not less certain than "science;" if anything, it is more certain. There are two main questions with respect to evolution -- the historical question, whether it has happened in the past, and the question of mechanism, which is proper to science and philosophy, if we accept the traditional Aristotelian account of science. What agents are involved, what is the sequence of changes and the chain of causes?

As I've stated elsewhere, the problem of species is one that needs to be resolved in a way that addresses the other fundamental questions pertaining to the essence of evolution. What is the problem of species? It is this: how is "species" to be defined within biology? Tied to this problem is the question of whether there are natural stable "kinds" or "types" of living things. One might think that since the word is used so often in theorizing about evolution, that its definition would be clear; however, rather than being clear it has become more obscure.

Eventually I will have to read through the following if I am going to write anything more substantial on the topic.

[Note to self: with respect to terminology one needs to make clear what the difference is between "part" and "structure"--there are various "levels of organization" in complex living things, and the structure of one part is the arrangement of its own component parts relative to one another. Is it necessary that such an arrangement have a useful function (as opposed to one that fulfills a purely aesthetic purpose)? Perhaps at some levels and not at others.]

Richard Blanchette
U. Laval thesis, "The Problem of Classification in Zoology" (pdf)

Thomas Reydon (homepage)
his thesis: Species as Units of Generalization in Biological Science
"Why does the species problem still persist?"
"Monists, pluralists, and biologists"
"Species are individuals--or are they?"
review of David Stamos, The Species Problem: Biological Species, Ontology, and the Metaphysics of Biology

David Stamos (faculty page)
The Species Problem
Darwin and the Nature of Species

David Hull
reviews The Philosophy of Biology: An Episodic History by Marjorie Grene and David Depew
His The Philosophy of Biology

based on Hull's work:
"David Hull's Natural Philosophy of Science"
"Ontology of Evolution: Species, Units, and Levels"

Jody Hey
faculty page
"A Reduction of 'Species' Resolves the Species Problem"
Genes, Categories, and Species
a review of his Genes, Categories, and Species

Marjorie Grene
faculty page
"Aristotle and Modern Biology"
"Recent Work on Aristotelian Biology"
There is a good summary of the species problem in chapter 10 of her book (co-written by David Depew), The Philosophy of Biology: An Episodic History

Ernest Mayr
page at Stephen J. Gould's site (scroll down for some online texts)
page at (bio)
excerpt on teleonomy
"What is a species, and what is not?"
"Is Biology an Autonomous Science"
news of his death
Systematics and the Origin of Species
"Ernst Mayr and the modern concept of species" (alt)

Mortimer Adler, Jacques Maritain?
Problems for Thomists: The Problem of Species (1940)
New York, Sheed & Ward

Not available online, as far as I know, but I probably need to read it just to see what Adler wrote on the subject. Maritain is listed as an author on certain webpages, but have not confirmed that this is so. Perhaps he just wrote the introduction, as "Problems for Thomists" was a series of inquiries written by Adler, in The Thomist? (I should double check and see if this book isn't a collection of articles he wrote for The Thomist.)

Matthew H. Slater, The Metaphysics of Species and Specious Metaphysics
Encyclopedia Brittanica, Philosophy of Biology
Alfred Tauber, Ecology and the Claims for a Science-Based Ethics
Intro to Nature's Purposes

KLI Theory Lab, Philosophy of Biology

Rob Wilson's syllabus; lecture handout
Review of Natural Kinds and Conceptual Change
"Different species problems and their resolution"
"Wittgenstein Solves (Posthumously) the Species Problem"
"The Species Problem" (of unknown quality)
"Antiquarian Musings"
Eric Voegelin

hmm... totally unrelated... Wilfred Sellers, Aristotelian Philosophies of Mind
Whoa, I found Christopher Mirus's thesis online: Aristotle's Teleology and Modern Mechanics

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