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De-extinction and the Conception of Species

Finkelman, Leonard (2018) De-extinction and the Conception of Species. [Preprint]

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Abstract

Developments in genetic engineering may soon allow biologists to clone organisms from extinct species. The process, dubbed “de-extinction,” has been publicized as a means to bring extinct species back to life. For theorists and philosophers of biology, the process also suggests a thought experiment for the ongoing “species problem”: given a species concept, would a clone be classified in the extinct species? Previous analyses have answered this question in the context of specific de-extinction technologies or particular species concepts. The thought experiment is given more comprehensive treatment here. Given the products of three de-extinction technologies, twenty-two species concepts are “tested” to see which are consistent with the idea that species may be resurrected. The ensuing discussion considers whether or not de-extinction is a conceptually coherent research program and, if so, whether or not its development may contribute to a resolution of the species problem. Ultimately, theorists must face a choice: they may revise their commitments to species concepts (if those concepts are inconsistent with de-extinction) or they may recognize de-extinction as a means to make progress in the species problem.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Finkelman, Leonarddinosaurphilosophy@linfield.edu
Keywords: species; species concepts; species problem; extinction; de-extinction; resurrection biology; cloning; genetic engineering; evolution; philosophy; Philosophy of Biology; mammoth
Subjects: General Issues > Scientific Metaphysics
Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
Specific Sciences > Biology > Systematics
General Issues > Thought Experiments
Depositing User: Dr Leonard Finkelman
Date Deposited: 20 Aug 2018 01:22
Last Modified: 20 Aug 2018 01:22
Item ID: 14949
Subjects: General Issues > Scientific Metaphysics
Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
Specific Sciences > Biology > Systematics
General Issues > Thought Experiments
Date: 19 August 2018
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/14949

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