Darwin and the Nature of Species

By David N. Stamos

Subjects: History Of Science
Series: SUNY series in Philosophy and Biology
Paperback : 9780791469385, 293 pages, November 2006
Hardcover : 9780791469378, 293 pages, November 2006

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Table of contents

1. A History of Nominalist Interpretation
2. Taxon, Category, and Laws of Nature
3. The Horizontal/Vertical Distinction and the Language Analogy
4. Common Descent and Natural Classification
5. Natural Selection and the Unity of Science
6. Not Sterility, Fertility, or Niches
7. The Varieties Problem
8. Darwin’s Strategy
9. Concept Change in Scientific Revolutions
10. Darwin and the New Historiography

Examines Darwin’s concept of species in a philosophical context.


Since the 1859 publication of On the Origin of Species, the concept of "species" in biology has been widely debated, with its precise definition far from settled. And yet, amazingly, there have been no books devoted to Charles Darwin's thinking on the term until now. David N. Stamos gives us a groundbreaking, historical reconstruction of Darwin's detailed, yet often misinterpreted, thoughts on this complex concept.

Stamos provides a thorough and detailed analysis of Darwin's extensive writings, both published and unpublished, in order to reveal Darwin's actual species concept. Stamos argues that Darwin had a unique evolutionary species concept in mind, one that was not at all a product of his time. Challenging currently accepted views that believe Darwin was merely following the species ascriptions of his fellow naturalists, Stamos works to prove that this prevailing, nominalistic view should be overturned. This book also addresses three issues pertinent to the philosophy of science: the modern species problem, the nature of concept change in scientific revolutions, and the contextualist trend in professional history of science.

David N. Stamos teaches philosophy at York University, Toronto and is the author of The Species Problem: Biological Species, Ontology, and the Metaphysics of Biology.


"Stamos works to tease out a consistent concept of species from the whole corpus of Darwin's work … He … offers a critical analysis of Kuhnian interpretations of Darwin's work, and one critical of purely 'externalist' accounts of science and of Darwin's scientific work in particular. " — CHOICE

"…a plausible, well-argued, and empirically sustained interpretation of Darwin's concept of species. — ISIS

"Even if the author's opponents remain unconverted by this book, they will heartily appreciate its deep scholarship and careful reasoning. While it is unlikely that anyone will ever deliver the final word on Darwin's philosophy of biology, this book will force those who find in Darwin an ally for nominalism to reconsider and soften their claims. " — Loyal Rue, author of Everybody's Story: Wising Up to the Epic of Evolution

"This book is a fine contribution to the ongoing debate on the Darwinian revolution. " — Michael T. Ghiselin, author of Metaphysics and the Origin of Species