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On the evolution of the species concept: Darwin's species realism

Farrell, Margaret E. (2018) On the evolution of the species concept: Darwin's species realism. Undergraduate Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Certain conceptual issues persist stubbornly in philosophy, changing form and focus over time. Analysis of historical and philosophical development of concepts can help us to understand the contemporary conceptual issues we face. In this thesis, I examine conceptual change in the case of a historically slippery concept in the philosophy of biology – the species concept. Broadly put, a species concept answers the question, “What is it to be a species?” The work of Charles Darwin in the nineteenth century had interesting consequences for the species concept in terms of conceptual development. Here is an interesting claim: Darwin is a species realist. It is a contentious one, debated throughout the historical and philosophical literature on Darwin. I wish to raise and resolve a new concern: Darwin is a species realist, even though he denies certain properties which, on the views of his peers, make species real. This apparent contradiction gives rise to two questions: first, how can Darwin resolve this issue and be a species realist? Second, why is he motivated to take such a stance? Then, with answers to these two questions in mind, I ask, what is the structure of this conceptual shift? I give historically motivated answers to the first two questions, and then sketch a philosophical framework which incorporates the first two questions and answers the third.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Farrell, Margaret E.margaretemilyfarrell@gmail.commef850000-0003-1281-889X
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Thesis AdvisorMitchell, Sandra
Committee MemberBeatty,
Committee MemberLennox, James
Committee MemberDietrich, Michael
Date: 26 April 2018
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 18 April 2018
Approval Date: 26 April 2018
Submission Date: 20 April 2018
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 62
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: David C. Frederick Honors College
Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > History and Philosophy of Science
Degree: BPhil - Bachelor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Undergraduate Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Darwin, species, species realism, conceptual change
Date Deposited: 26 Apr 2018 14:52
Last Modified: 26 Apr 2018 14:52


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