•  3
    Morphology and Phylogeny
    Journal of the History of Biology 53 (2): 217-230. 2020.
    The concept that renders morphology a tool for phylogeny reconstruction is homology. The concept of homology is rooted in pre-evolutionary idealistic morphology. The claim that the goal of idealistic morphology was the seriability of form may sound paradoxical given that this discipline proceeded within a framework of strictly delimited types. But the types only demarcate where seriability starts and where it comes to an end. Carl Gegenbaur’s was recognized as a milestone in idealistic morpholog…Read more
  •  31
    The German synthesis of evolutionary theory that grew out of opposition to idealistic morphology has been anchored in the systematic work at the species level and below pursued by the Berlin School around Erwin Stresemann, in the 1939 German translation of Dobzhansky’s Genetics and the Origin of Species, and in a 1943 anthology on evolution edited by Gerhard Heberer. The latter volume opened with a philosophical essay written by Hugo Dingler that was intended to provide the theoretical foundatio…Read more
  •  32
    Adolf Naef (1883–1949): On Foundational Concepts and Principles of Systematic Morphology (review)
    with David M. Williams and Malte C. Ebach
    Journal of the History of Biology 46 (3): 445-510. 2013.
    During the early twentieth century, the Swiss Zoologist Adolf Naef (1883–1949) established himself as a leader in German comparative anatomy and higher level systematics. He is generally labeled an ‘idealistic morphologist’, although he himself called his research program ‘systematic morphology’. The idealistic morphology that flourished in German biology during the first half of the twentieth century was a rather heterogeneous movement, within which Adolf Naef worked out a special theoretical s…Read more
  •  154
    The poverty of taxonomic characters
    with Maureen Kearney
    Biology and Philosophy 22 (1): 95-113. 2007.
    The theory and practice of contemporary comparative biology and phylogeny reconstruction (systematics) emphasizes algorithmic aspects but neglects a concern for the evidence. The character data used in systematics to formulate hypotheses of relationships in many ways constitute a black box, subject to uncritical assessment and social influence. Concerned that such a state of affairs leaves systematics and the phylogenetic theories it generates severely underdetermined, we investigate the nature …Read more
  •  11
    Species are individuals—the German tradition
    Cladistics 27 (6): 629-645. 2011.
    The German tradition of considering species, and higher taxonomic entities, as individuals begins with the temporalization of natural history, thus pre-dating Darwin’s ‘Origin’ of 1859. In the tradition of German Naturphilosophie as developed by Friedrich Schelling, species came to be seen as parts of a complex whole that encompasses all (living) nature. Species were comprehended as dynamic entities that earn individuality by virtue of their irreversible passage through time. Species individuali…Read more
  •  48
    New Essentialism in Biology
    Philosophy of Science 77 (5): 662-673. 2010.
    The architects of the modern synthesis banned essentialism from evolutionary theory. This rejection of essentialism was motivated by Darwin’s theory of natural selection, and the continuity of evolutionary transformation. Contemporary evolutionary biology witnesses a renaissance of essentialism in three contexts: “origin essentialism” with respect to species and supraspecific taxa, the bar coding of species on the basis of discontinuities of DNA variation between populations, and the search for …Read more
  • Die Rückseite des Spiegels
    Ethik Und Sozialwissenschaften 6 (3): 339. 1995.
  •  10
    Turtles as hopeful monsters
    Bioessays 23 (11): 987-991. 2001.
    A recently published study on the development of the turtle shell(1) highlights the important role that development plays in the origin of evolutionary novelties(1). The evolution of the highly derived adult anatomy of turtles is a prime example of a macroevolutionary event triggered by changes in early embryonic development. Early ontogenetic deviation may cause patterns of morphological change that are not compatible with scenarios of gradualistic, stepwise transformation.
  •  15
    Karl Beurlen , Nature Mysticism, and Aryan Paleontology
    Journal of the History of Biology 45 (2): 253-299. 2012.
    The relatively late acceptance of Darwinism in German biology and paleontology is frequently attributed to a lingering of Lamarckism, a persisting influence of German idealistic Naturphilosophie and Goethean romanticism. These factors are largely held responsible for the vitalism underlying theories of saltational and orthogenetic evolutionary change that characterize the writings of many German paleontologists during the first half of the 20th century. A prominent exponent of that tradition was…Read more
  •  99
    Against species essentialism Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11016-010-9448-6 Authors Olivier Rieppel, Department of Geology, The Field Museum, 1400 South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60605-2496, USA Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
  •  16
  •  27
    Origins, taxa, names and meanings
    Cladistics 24 598-610. 2008.
    In a recent contribution, Ereshefsky (2007a) maintained the following points against Nixon and Carpenter (2000), Keller et al. (2003), and Rieppel (2005a, 2006a,b): (1) that species and taxa are individuals, not natural kinds; (2) that “origin essentialism” conflates qualitative essentialism with genealogical connectedness; and (3) that rigid designation theory applies to taxon names. Here I argue that: (1) the conception of species as individuals or natural kinds is not mutually exclusive but r…Read more
  • Evolution - ein metaphysisches Forschungsprogramm?
    Ethik Und Sozialwissenschaften 4 (1): 60. 1993.
  •  84
    ‘Total evidence’ in phylogenetic systematics
    Biology and Philosophy 24 (5): 607-622. 2009.
    Taking its clues from Popperian philosophy of science, cladistics adopted a number of assumptions of the empiricist tradition. These include the identification of a dichotomy between observation reports and theoretical statements and its subsequent abandonment on the basis of the insight that all observation reports are theory-laden. The neglect of the ‘context of discovery’, which is the step of theory (hypothesis) generation. The emphasis on coherentism in the ‘context of justification’, which…Read more
  •  24
    Re-writing Popper's Philosophy of Science for Systematics
    History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 30 (3-4). 2008.
    This paper explores the use of Popper's philosophy of science by cladists in their battle against evolutionary and numerical taxonomy. Three schools of biological systematics fiercely debated each other from the late 1960s: evolutionary taxonomy, phenetics or numerical taxonomy, and phylogenetic systematics or cladistics. The outcome of that debate was the victory of phylogenetic systematics/cladistics over the competing schools of thought. To bring about this "cladistic turn" in systematics, th…Read more
  •  36
    Louis agassiz (1807–1873) and the reality of natural groups
    Biology and Philosophy 3 (1): 29-47. 1988.
    The philosophy of pattern cladism has been variously explained by reference to the work of Louis Agassiz. The present study analyzes Agassiz's attempt to combine an empirical approach to the study of nature with an idealistic philosophy. From this emerges the problem of empiricism and of the isomorphy between the order of nature and human thinking. The analysis of the writings of Louis Agassiz serves as the basis for discussion of the reality of natural groups as postulated by pattern cladists.
  •  43
    Biological Individuals and Natural Kinds
    Biological Theory 7 (2): 162-169. 2013.
    This paper takes a hierarchical approach to the question whether species are individuals or natural kinds. The thesis defended here is that species are spatiotemporally located complex wholes (individuals), that are composed of (i.e., include) causally interdependent parts, which collectively also instantiate a homeostatic property cluster (HPC) natural kind. Species may form open or closed genetic systems that are dynamic in nature, that have fuzzy boundaries due to the processual nature of spe…Read more
  •  109
    The series, the network, and the tree: changing metaphors of order in nature
    Biology and Philosophy 25 (4): 475-496. 2010.
    The history of biological systematics documents a continuing tension between classifications in terms of nested hierarchies congruent with branching diagrams (the ‘Tree of Life’) versus reticulated relations. The recognition of conflicting character distribution led to the dissolution of the scala naturae into reticulated systems, which were then transformed into phylogenetic trees by the addition of a vertical axis. The cladistic revolution in systematics resulted in a representation of phyloge…Read more
  •  18
    The “species-as-individuals” thesis takes species, or taxa, to be individuals. On grounds of spatiotemporal boundedness, any biological entity at any level of complexity subject to evolutionary processes is an individual. From evolutionary theory flows an ontology that does not countenance universal properties shared by evolving entities. If austere nominalism were applied to evolving entities, however, nature would be reduced to a mere flow of passing events, each one a blob in space–time and h…Read more
  • Evolutionäre Logik - eine Missgeburt des Zeitgeistes
    Ethik Und Sozialwissenschaften 4 (3): 480. 1993.
  •  16
    The definition of taxon names as formalized by the PhyloCode is based on Kripke's thesis of “rigid designation” that applies to Millian proper names. Accepting the thesis of “rigid designation” into systematics in turn is based on the thesis that species, and taxa, are individuals. These largely semantic and metaphysical issues are here contrasted with an epistemological approach to taxonomy. It is shown that the thesis of “rigid designation” if deployed in taxonomy introduces a new essentialism…Read more
  •  83
    Species as a process
    Acta Biotheoretica (1-2): 33-49. 2009.
    Species are generally considered to be the basic units of evolution, and hence to constitute spatio-temporally bounded entities. In addition, it has been argued that species also instantiate a natural kind. Evolution is fundamentally about change. The question then is how species can remain the same through evolutionary change. Proponents of the species qua individuals thesis individuate species through their unique evolutionary origin. Individuals, or spatio-temporally located particulars in ge…Read more
  •  76
    Monophyly, paraphyly, and natural kinds
    Biology and Philosophy 20 (2-3): 465-487. 2005.
    A long-standing debate has dominated systematic biology and the ontological commitments made by its theories. The debate has contrasted individuals and the part – whole relationship with classes and the membership relation. This essay proposes to conceptualize the hierarchy of higher taxa is terms of a hierarchy of homeostatic property cluster natural kinds (biological species remain largely excluded from the present discussion). The reference of natural kind terms that apply to supraspecific ta…Read more
  •  31
    Do Clades Cladogenerate?
    Biological Theory 3 (4): 375-379. 2008.
  • Wiederholung ist keine Begründung
    Ethik Und Sozialwissenschaften 5 (2): 243. 1994.
  •  11
    Species monophyly
    Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research 48 (1): 1-8. 2009.
    In biological systematics, as well as in the philosophy of biology, species and higher taxa are individuated through their unique evolutionary origin. This is taken by some authors to mean that monophyly is a (relational) property not only of higher taxa, but also of species. A species is said to originate through speciation, and to go extinct when it splits into two daughter species (or through terminal extinction). Its unique evolutionary origin is said to bestow identity on a species through …Read more