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Species and kinds: a critique of Rieppel’s “one of a kind” account of species


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A major issue in philosophical debates on the species problem concerns the opposition between two seemingly incompatible views of the metaphysics of species: the view that species are individuals and the view that species are natural kinds. In two recent papers in this journal, Olivier Rieppel suggested that this opposition is much less deep than it seems at first sight. Rieppel used a recently developed philosophical account of natural kindhood, namely Richard Boyd’s “homeostatic property cluster” theory, to argue that every species taxon can be conceived of as an individual that constitutes the single member of its own specific natural kind. In this paper I criticize Rieppel’s approach and argue that it does not deliver what it is supposed to, namely an account of species as kinds about which generalized statements can be made.