Metaphysics and the Origin of Species

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Overview

This discussion of the philosophy of evolutionary biology is based on the author's idea that species are not kinds of organisms but wholes composed of organisms - individuals in the broadest ontological sense. Although the book's primary focus is on species and speciation, it deals with a wide variety of other fundamental units and basic processes and provides a reexamination of the role of classification in biology and other sciences. In explaining his individuality thesis, Michael T. Ghiselin provides extended discussions of such philosophical topics as definition, the reality of various kinds of groups, and how we classify traits and processes. He develops and applies the implications for general biology and other sciences and makes the case that a better understanding of species and of classification in general puts biologists and paleontologists in a much better position to understand nature in general, and such processes as extinction in particular.
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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Discusses the philosophy of evolutionary biology based on Ghiselin's idea that species are not kinds of organisms, but integral creatures composed of organisms. Though primarily concerned with species and speciation, also deals with a variety of other fundamental units and basic processes and reexamines the role of classification in biology and other sciences. Argues that a better understanding of species and classification in general allows biologists and paleontologists to understand nature better, especially the processes of extinction. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

Table of Contents

Preface
1 Introduction 1
2 Beyond Language 19
3 What an Individual Is 37
4 What an Individual Is Not 51
5 Some Definitions of 'Definition' 63
6 Definitions of 'Species' and Some Other Terms 81
7 Some Alternatives to the Biological Species Concept 99
8 Objections to the Individuality Thesis 123
9 Working Out the Analogies 135
10 Why Do Species Exist? 149
11 Objective and Subjective Systems 163
12 Natural and Artificial Systems 181
13 Characters and Homologies 199
14 Laws of Nature 219
15 The Principles of Historical Inference 231
16 Embryology as History and as Law 245
17 The Artifactual Basis of Macroevolution 263
18 Toward a Real History of Life 285
App.: Aphorisms, Summary and Glossographic 301
References 309
Index 367
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