PSA2016: The 25th Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association

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Scientific Realism and Historical Essences: The Case of Species

Kinds are thought to be an important asset for scientific realists in the special science domains. Essential natures are less in vogue. A key case is biological species. While a dominant view holds that species lack essential natures altogether, some argue that species have historical rather than intrinsic essential natures. However as historical essences are relational, they are thought to suffer from shortcomings that render them unsuitable imports into a scientific realist ontology. This paper tries to counter this pessimism by arguing that historical essences do have the right credentials to underwrite “Kind-style” defenses of scientific realism.

Author Information:

Marion Godman    
Helsinki University


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