Hostname: page-component-5db6c4db9b-cfm7h Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2023-03-25T16:36:35.000Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "useRatesEcommerce": false } hasContentIssue true

Eliminative Pluralism

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 April 2022

Marc Ereshefsky*
Department of Philosophy, University of Calgary


This paper takes up the cause of species pluralism. An argument for species pluralism is provided and standard monist objections to pluralism are answered. A new form of species pluralism is developed and shown to be an improvement over previous forms. This paper also offers a general foundation on which to base a pluralistic approach to biological classification.

Research Article
Copyright © 1992 by the Philosophy of Science Association

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


I thank David Hull, Brent Mishler, and Elliott Sober for their detailed comments on an earlier draft of this paper. Financial support was provided by the Department of Philosophy at Washington University, St. Louis in the form of a Mellon Post-Doctorate Fellowship.

Send reprint requests to the author, Department of Philosophy, University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive N.W., Calgary, Alberta T2N 1N4, Canada.


Andersson, L. (1990), “The Driving Force: Species Concepts and Ecology”, Taxon 39: 375382.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Carson, L. (1975), “The Species as a Field for Genetic Recombination”, in Mayr, E. (ed.), The Species Problem. Washington, D.C.: American Association for the Advancement of Science, pp. 2338.Google Scholar
Cartwright, N. (1983), How the Laws of Physics Lie. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cracraft, J. (1983), “Species Concepts and Speciation Analysis”, in Johnston, R. (ed.), Current Ornithology. New York: Plenum Press, pp. 159187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cracraft, J. (1987), “Species Concepts and the Ontology of Evolution”, Biology and Philosophy 2: 329346.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Darwin, F. (ed.) (1887), The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, Including an Autobiographical Chapter. 3rd ed. London: John Murry.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
de Queiroz, K. and Donoghue, M. (1988), “Phylogenetic Systematics and the Species Problem”, Cladistics 4: 317338.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Dobzhansky, T. (1970), Genetics and the Evolutionary Process. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
Dupré, J. (1981), “Natural Kinds and Biological Taxa”, Philosophical Review 90: 6690.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ehrlich, P. and Raven, P. (1969), “Differentiation of Populations”, Science 165: 12281232.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Eldredge, N. (1985), Unfinished Synthesis: Biological Hierarchies and Modern Evolutionary Thought. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Eldredge, N. and Cracraft, J. (1980), Phylogenetic Patterns and the Evolutionary Process: Method and Theory in Comparative Biology. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
Ereshefsky, M. (1991), “Species, Higher Taxa, and the Units of Evolution”, Philosophy of Science 58: 84101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ereshefsky, M. (ed.). (1992), The Units of Evolution: Essays on the Nature of Species. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
Frost, D. and Hillis, D. (1990), “Species in Concept and Practice: Herpetological Applications”, Herpetologica 46: 87104.Google Scholar
Futuyma, D. (1985), Evolutionary Biology, 2d ed. Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates.Google Scholar
Ghiselin, M. (1969), The Triumph of the Darwinian Method. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.Google Scholar
Ghiselin, M. (1974), “A Radical Solution to the Species Problem”, Systematic Zoology 23: 127143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ghiselin, M. (1987), “Species Concepts, Individuality, and Objectivity”, Biology and Philosophy 2: 127143.Google Scholar
Ghiselin, M. (1989), “Sex and the Individuality of Species: A Reply to Mishler and Brandon”, Biology and Philosophy 4: 7376.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Grant, V. (1981), Plant Speciation, 2d ed. New York: Columbia University Press.10.7312/gran92318CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hennig, W. (1966), Phylogenetic Systematics. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
Holsinger, K. (1984), “The Nature of Biological Species”, Philosophy of Science 51: 293307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hull, D. (1970), “Contemporary Systematic Philosophies”, Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 1: 1954.10.1146/ Scholar
Hull, D. (1976), “Are Species Really Individuals?Systematic Zoology 25: 174191.10.2307/2412744CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hull, D. (1978), “A Matter of Individuality”, Philosophy of Science 45: 335360.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hull, D. (1987), “Genealogical Actors in Ecological Roles”, Biology and Philosophy 2: 168183.Google Scholar
Hull, D. (1988), Science as a Process: An Evolutionary Account of the Social and Conceptual Development of Science. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hull, D. (1989), “A Function for Actual Examples in Philosophy of Science”, in Ruse, M., (ed.), M. Ruse, Dordrecht: Kluwer, pp. 309321.Google Scholar
Kitcher, P. (1984a), “Against the Monism of the Moment: A Reply to Elliott Sober”, Philosophy of Science 51: 616630.10.1086/289208CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kitcher, P. (1984b), “Species”, Philosophy of Science 51: 308333.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kitcher, P. (1987), “Ghostly Whispers: Mayr, Ghiselin and the ‘Philosophers’ on the Ontological Status of Species”, Biology and Philosophy 2: 184192.Google Scholar
Kitcher, P. (1989), “Some Puzzles about Species”, in Ruse, M., (ed.), M. Ruse, Dordrecht: Kluwer, pp. 183208.Google Scholar
Laudan, L. (1984), Science and Values: An Essay on the Aims of Science and Their Role in Scientific Debate. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.Google Scholar
Levins, R. (1968), Evolution in Changing Environments: Some Theoretical Explorations. Princeton: Princeton University Press.10.1515/9780691209418CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mayr, E. (1969), Principles of Systematic Zoology. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
Mayr, E. (1970), Populations, Species, and Evolution: An Abridgment of Animal Species and Evolution. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
Mayr, E. (1982), The Growth of Biological Thought: Diversity, Evolution, and Inheritance. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
Mayr, E. (1987), “The Ontological Status of Species: Scientific Progress and Philosophical Terminology”, Biology and Philosophy 2: 145166.Google Scholar
Mayr, E. (1988), “The Why and How of Species”, Biology and Philosophy 3: 431442.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mishler, B. and Brandon, R. (1987), “Individuality, Pluralism, and the Phylogenetic Species Concept”, Biology and Philosophy 2: 397414.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mishler, B. and Budd, A. (1990), “Species and Evolution in Clonal Organisms—Introduction”, Systematic Botany 15: 7085.10.2307/2419018CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mishler, B. and Donoghue, M. (1982), “Species Concepts: A Case for Pluralism”, Systematic Zoology 31: 491503.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Neigel, J. and Avise, J. (1986), “Phylogenetic Relationships of Mitochondrial DNA under Various Demographic Models of Speciation”, in Karlin, S. and Nevo, E., (eds.), S. Karlin and E. Nevo, Orlando: Academic Press, pp. 515534.Google Scholar
Paterson, H. (1985), “The Recognition Concept of Species”, in Vrba, E., (ed.), E. Vrba, Pretoria: Transvall Museum, pp. 2129.Google Scholar
Ridley, M. (1986), Evolution and Classification: The Reformation of Cladism. London: Longman.Google Scholar
Ridley, M. (1990), “Comments on Wilkinson's Commentary”, Biology and Philosophy 4: 447450.10.1007/BF02207382CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ruse, M. (1969), “Definitions of Species in Biology”, British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 20: 97119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ruse, M. (1987), “Biological Species: Natural Kinds, Individuals, or What?British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 38: 225242.10.1093/bjps/38.2.225CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sneath, P. and Sokal, R. (1973), Numerical Taxonomy: The Principles and Practice of Numerical Classification. San Francisco: Freeman.Google Scholar
Sober, E. (1980), “Evolution, Population Thinking and Evolution”, Philosophy of Science 47: 350383.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sober, E. (1984), “Sets, Species, and Evolution: Comments on Philip Kitcher's ‘Species‘”, Philosophy of Science 51: 334341.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Tajima, F. (1983), “Evolutionary Relationships of DNA Sequences in Finite Populations,” Genetics 105: 437460.10.1093/genetics/105.2.437CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Templeton, A. (1989), “The Meaning of Species and Speciation: A Genetic Perspective”, in Otte, D. and Endler, J., (eds.), D. Otte and J. Endler, Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates, pp. 327.Google Scholar
Van Valen, L. (1976), “Ecological Species, Multispecies, and Oaks,”, Taxon 25: 233239.CrossRefGoogle Scholar