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The Units of Evolution

Essays on the Nature of Species

Edited by Marc Ereshefsky

A Bradford Book





The Units of Evolution is the first anthology devoted solely to the nature of species, one of the most hotly debated issues in biology and the philosophy of biology. The anthology is evenly balanced between biological and philosophical issues, making it equally useful for workers in both fields.In his general introduction, Marc Ereshefsky sketches the framework for the debate, explaining how biologists disagree over the definition of the term species, and philosophers struggle to evaluate the scientific utility of a categorization device that might lack a single defining characteristic.Essays in the first section offer various definitions of the species category, starting with Ernst Mayr's seminal work on species and including essays by Robert Sokal and Theodore Crovello, Paul Ehrlich and Peter Raven, Leigh Van Valen, Edward Wiley, Joel Cracraft, Brent Mishler and Michael Donoghue, Hugh Paterson, and Alan Templeton.The essays in the second section focus on such philosophical issues as whether species taxa are individuals or natural kinds, whether a monistic or pluralistic approach to systematics should be adopted, and the distinction between species and higher taxa.

Contributors Include Michael Ghiselin, David Hull, John Beatty, Michael Ruse, Elliott Sober, Philip Kircher, and Marc Ereshefsky


$16.75 S | £13.99 ISBN: 9780262050449 426 pp. | 9.1 in x 6.1 in


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262550208 426 pp. | 9.1 in x 6.1 in


Marc Ereshefsky

Marc Ereshefsky is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Calgary.


  • Philosophers and biologists will find a great deal to think about in this collection. The essays raise fundamental questions about how species and higher taxa should be conceptualized. The implications for evolutionary theory and for philosophy are rich and variegated. This volume consolidates and promotes a symbiotic relationship between biology and the philosophy of science.

    Elliott Sober

    Department of Philosophy, University of Wisconsin-Madison

  • The species problem is one of the few controversies in science to which both scientists and philosophers have made significant contributions. In The Units of Evolution, Marc Ereshefsky has collected eighteen of the most seminal essays on the topics. Both scientists and philosophers alike will find the subtle ways in which the scientific and philosophical issues intertwine fascinating reading.

    David L. Hull

    Dressler Professor in the Humanities, Northwestern University

  • The 'Species Question' is a problem which uniquely focuses the attention of biologists and philosophers. Marc Ereshefsky is to be congratulated on his comprehensive collection. It will be a handy reference for established scholars and an excellent introduction for those new to the subject.

    Michael Ruse

    Professor Philosophy and Zoology, University of Guelph