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The Mystery of the Triceratops's Mother: How to be a realist about the species category.

Currie, Adrian (2016) The Mystery of the Triceratops's Mother: How to be a realist about the species category. [Preprint]

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Abstract

Can we be realists about a general category but pluralists about concepts relating to that category? I argue that paleobiological methods of delineating species are not affected by differing species concepts, and that this underwrites an argument that species concept pluralists should be species category realists. First, the criteria by which paleobiologists delineate species is ‘indifferent’ to the species category. That is, their method for identifying species applies equally to any species concept. To identify a new species, paleobiologists show that interspecies processes, such as phenotypic plasticity (including pathology), sexual dimorphism, or ontogenetic diversity, are a worse explanation of the variance between specimens than intraspecies processes. As opposed to operating under a single or plurality of species concepts, then, paleobiologists use abductive inferences, which would be required regardless of any particular species concept. Second, paleobiologists are frequently interested in large-scale, long-term morphological patterns in the fossil record, and resolving the fine-grained differences which result from different species concepts is irrelevant at those scales. I argue that this claim about paleobiological practice supports what I call ‘indifference realism’ about the species category. The indifference realist argues that when legitimate investigation is indifferent to a plurality of concepts, we should be realists about the category those concepts pertain to.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Currie, Adrian
Subjects: General Issues > Scientific Metaphysics
Specific Sciences > Biology
Specific Sciences > Earth Sciences
General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
Depositing User: Dr Adrian Currie
Date Deposited: 30 Apr 2018 00:51
Last Modified: 30 Apr 2018 00:51
Item ID: 14611
Official URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10670...
Subjects: General Issues > Scientific Metaphysics
Specific Sciences > Biology
Specific Sciences > Earth Sciences
General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
Date: 2016
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/14611

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