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Putting Metaphysics FirstEssays on Metaphysics and Epistemology$
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Michael Devitt

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199280803

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199280803.001.0001

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Natural Kinds and Biological Realisms *

Natural Kinds and Biological Realisms *

Chapter:
(p.197) 10 Natural Kinds and Biological Realisms*
Source:
Putting Metaphysics First
Author(s):

Michael Devitt (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199280803.003.0011

This chapter examines some interesting ‘realism’ issues in biology, arguing that these are best seen as about which kinds are explanatorily significant, which ones are ‘natural kinds’. Seeing them as ‘realism’ issues has caused unclarity and confusion. The main issue discussed is that between Ereshefsky's ‘pluralistic antirealism’ and Kitcher's ‘pluralistic realism’ about species. The chapter argues that so far as ‘realism’ is concerned, these views are actually the same. Concerning the higher categories it finds no good reason for the view of Eldredge and Cracraft that the higher taxa ‘do not exist in the same sense as do species’ and doubts the cladistic view that only monophyletic groups are ‘real’, that is to say, natural kinds. However, the signs are that the higher categories are not natural kinds and hence that the Linnaean hierarchy should be abandoned.

Keywords:   natural kinds, biological realisms, Ereshefsky, Kitcher, species, Eldredge, Cracraft, cladism, monophyletic, Linnaean hierarchy

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