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Download Darwin And the Nature of Species (S U N Y Series in by David N. Stamos PDF

By David N. Stamos

Examines Darwin's inspiration of species in a philosophical context.

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I have found it impossible, however, to find any of them quote Darwin as a species nominalist, which makes sense since they were anti-selectionists and so therefore would be unlikely to appeal to Darwin as an authority on the matter. Turning now to the post-Synthesis period, it is remarkable to find biologists, philosophers, and historians repeatedly ascribe to Darwin species nominalism. S. Haldane, together with Fisher and Wright one of the three main founders of 16 DARWIN AND THE NATURE OF SPECIES the Modern Synthesis.

There are at least two problems with this view, however. The first one concerns Herbert in particular. Darwin had indeed read Herbert (his Amaryllidaceæ is frequently cited in Darwin’s Notebook E), had exchanged a number of letters with him in mid-1839, and had even visited him once in September 1845 (Herbert died in 1847). Equally important, in the Origin Darwin favorably refers to Herbert on the topic of the struggle for existence among plants (62), and even more favorably on the topic of perfect fertility in interspecific hybrids in the genera Crinum and Hippeastrum A History of Nominalist Interpretation 17 (249–251).

Is a name given to a group of organisms for convenience, and indeed of necessity” (95), and moreover that “the concept of a species is a concession to our linguistic habits and neurological mechanisms” (96). Seeing species in both space and time, he adds that “in a complete paleontology all taxonomic distinctions would be as arbitrary as the division of a road by milestones” (96). As we shall see in subsequent chapters, however, this view fails to recognize that Darwin thought of species as primarily horizontal entities and as being delimited in the main by natural selection, which is a far cry from the subjectivity that Haldane ascribes to Darwin’s view.

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