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Reading: In sustain of M. Devitt’s “Resurrecting Biological Essentialism”


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In sustain of M. Devitt’s “Resurrecting Biological Essentialism”


Francesca Bellazzi

London School of Economics and Political Science, GB
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In this essay, I analyse Devitt’s paper’s “Resurrecting Biological Essentialism” (2008) to show that essentialism is a proper way to address the problem of the definition of species. In particular, I consider Devitt’s thesis: Linnean taxa have essences that are, at least partially, underlying intrinsic essential properties. These essential properties are largely, but not entirely genetic and determine the belonging to a species. This “resurrection” of biological essentialism is proposed in relation to the insufficiency of the definition of species in current philosophy of biology. The major objection to essentialism challenges the notion of essence in view of variation and change and evolutionary theory. I propose two lines of response to this objection: the first concerning the concept of evolution, the second the concept of essential properties. In conclusion, I state that Devitt’s essentialism stands up to scrutiny and that the essentialism account is an interesting position for further research about the differences in species.
How to Cite: Bellazzi, F., 2019. In sustain of M. Devitt’s “Resurrecting Biological Essentialism”. Rerum Causae, 10(1), pp.17–26.
Published on 11 Sep 2019.
Peer Reviewed


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