In this paper, we discuss the following four alternative ways of understanding the outcomes of resurrection biology. Implications of each of the ways are discussed with respect to concepts of species and extinction. Replication: animals created by resurrection biology do not belong to the original species but are copies of it. The view is compatible with finality of extinction as well as with certain biological and ecological species concepts. Re-creation: animals created are members of the original species but, despite their (...) existence, the species remains extinct. The view is incompatible with all species concepts presented. Non-extinction: animals produced belong to the original species which actually never went extinct. The view may be consistent with phenetic and phylogenetic species concepts as well as with finality of extinction. According to literal resurrection, resurrection biology is successful in reversing extinction through the creation of new members of species that once went extinct. This view presupposes non-finality of extinction and it is compatible with phenetic species concepts. It is notable that no species or extinction concept is consistent with all possible views of resurrection biology nor is any view of resurrection biology consistent with all species or extinction concepts. Thus, one’s views regarding species and extinction determine which views one can adopt regarding resurrection biology and vice versa. (shrink)
Philosophy has been a public endeavor since its origins in ancient Greece, India, and China. However, recent years have seen the development of a new type of public philosophy conducted by both academics and non- professionals. The new public philosophy manifests itself in a range of modalities, from the publication of magazines and books for the general public to a variety of initiatives that exploit the power and flexibility of social networks and new media. In this paper we examine the (...) phenomenon of public philosophy in its several facets, and investigate whether and in what sense it is itself a mix of philosophical practice and teaching. We conclude with a number of suggestions to academic colleagues on why and how to foster further growth of public philosophy for the benefit of society at large and of the discipline itself. (shrink)
Recent debates between proponents of the modern evolutionary synthesis (the standard model in evolutionary biology) and those of a possible extended synthesis are a good example of the fascinating tangle among empirical, theoretical, and conceptual or philosophical matters that is the practice of evolutionary biology. In this essay, we briefly discuss two case studies from this debate, highlighting the relevance of philosophical thinking to evolutionary biologists in the hope of spurring further constructive cross-pollination between the two fields.
Organisms leave a variety of traces in the fossil record. Among these traces, vertebrate and invertebrate paleontologists conventionally recognize a distinction between the remains of an organism’s phenotype and the remains of an organism’s life activities. The same convention recognizes body fossils as biological structures and trace fossils as geological objects. This convention explains some curious practices in the classification, as with the distinction between taxa for trace fossils and for tracemakers. I consider the distinction between “parallel taxonomies,” or parataxonomies, (...) which privileges some kinds of fossil taxa as “natural” and others as “artificial.” The motivations for and consequences of this practice are inconsistent. By comparison, I examine an alternative system of classification used by paleobotanists that regards all fossil taxa as “artificially” split. While this system has the potential to inflate the number of taxa with which paleontologists work, the system offers greater consistency than conventional practices. Weighing the strengths and weaknesses of each system, I recommend that paleontologists should adopt the paleobotanical system more broadly. (shrink)
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 or they may recognize de-extinction as a means to make progress in the species problem. (shrink)
At the turn of the last century, paleontologists wagered that they could find the missing link between lobe-finned fish and early terrestrial vertebrates. Given how these evolutionary relatives are distributed in the fossil record, Daeschler et al. predicted that some transitional form awaited discovery in late Devonian outcrops of the Canadian Arctic. It was there that they won their bet: the team soon found Tiktaalik roseae, a “fishopod” with a mix of aquatic and terrestrial traits. Tiktaalik’s discovery now stands as (...) paleontologists’ textbook case of scientific reasoning done right. (shrink)
This chapter commences with an account on the Zillo Beasts. The reawakening of extinct species, or "de‐extinction," has gained massive popular appeal. The chapter explains some facts before delving into the philosophical debate over de‐extinction. Philosophers sometimes use far‐fetched examples to answer the questions that are left after we agree on all the facts. These “thought experiments” are meant to show us what we really believe. What makes a duck a duck, a mammoth a mammoth, or a Zillo Beast a (...) Zillo Beast? This is called the species problem, and it is one of the oldest in the philosophy of biology. Essentialism is the view that permits us to say that the Zillo Beast's clone would be a member of the Zillo Beast species. The New Essentialists argue that essentialism can be compatible with natural selection if one looks beyond organisms' traits for species essences. (shrink)
Questions traditionally answered by philosophers are now being tackled by prominent scientists. As the cultural influence of science and technology continues to grow, what room, if any, is left for philosophy? Three philosophers—Dr. Jonathan Kaplan, Dr. Massimo Pigliucci, and Dr. Leonard Finkelman —explore issues related to the philosophy of science, including how philosophy has contributed to scientific progress, why philosophy continues to be important to science, and why there remain questions that only philosophy can answer. The panelists represent four generations (...) of an academic lineage: Dr. Kaplan was Dr. Pigliucci's dissertation advisor, Dr. Pigliucci was Dr. Finkelman's dissertation advisor, and Evan Tracy is a student of Dr. Finkelman. (shrink)
This chapter discusses that the rivalry between Superman and Luthor is greater than any of those already mentioned because it’s a philosophical one. In the multiverse of philosophical theories, we find two Earths, which we’ll call Earth‐P and Earth‐O. These Earths are so diametrically opposed that one simply has to be a Bizarro version of the other. Using Superman as a guide, the author tries to figure out which is ours and which is the Bizarro World. The Superman of Earth‐O (...) would never dominate humanity because he would perceive us as his (moral) equals. Superman believes that his upbringing on Earth makes him human, despite his Kryptonian heritage; therefore, he would have to believe that all humans, including his worst enemy, are by nature good. (shrink)
Dr. Leonard Finkelman discusses how, even though the fossils of dinosaurs have been named, the animals themselves are still nameless. Finkelman makes his argument using the example of a Tyrannosaurus Rex — it's the name of rocks, but not the name of the animal whose bones became those rocks.