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

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Ambiguities in Paleontological Metaphysics

Paleontology is distinguished from neontology by its focus on extinct taxa. The degree to which these two fields share conceptual and methodological ground has been a matter of debate since Eldredge & Gould (1972) argued that the fossil record should be read as data rather than as an epiphenomenon of neontological processes (see, e.g., Dennett 1995 and essays in Sepkoski & Ruse 2009). The purpose of this paper is to clarify two important conceptual ambiguities, appropriately enough, in the concepts of ‘extinction’ and paleontological ‘taxa,’ relevant to this debate.

Author Information:

Leonard Finkelman    
Linfield College


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