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danYell's picture

What is a species?

What is a species? In writing my paper, and in thinking about last week’s discussion I realized that we don’t know what a species is. I had assumed this information was known as fact, and that a species were those animals that could mate and create offspring. I discovered that there are in fact many different definitions of species that are being toyed with and no one has come up with a definitive answer, though there are a few less wrongs.

Dennet says “Darwin discourages us from trying to find a ‘principled’ definition of the concept of species.” (p45) But, the Origin of Species is about speciation, or the process through which we come to have species. This is confusing to me. How can we know about this process without knowing what a species is? What is the standard that we are using as a group? Can science be based on such unprincipled information? How can we be expected to accept the theory of evolution if its basis is this indefinable idea of species?

Danielle Joseph

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