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Biological Classification: A Philosophical Introduction

  • Comprehensive, covering all the main philosophical issues in biological classification
  • Includes a survey of the history of biological classification from Aristotle to the present
  • Naturalistic, in the sense that it begins with what the sciences tell us about the cultural, psychological and linguistic foundations of biological classification

Series: Cambridge Introductions to Philosophy and Biology

By: Richard A Richards(Author)

302 pages, 13 b/w illustrations

Cambridge University Press

Paperback | Sep 2016 | #228885 | ISBN-13: 9781107687844
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £28.99 $37/€32 approx
Hardback | Sep 2016 | #228884 | ISBN-13: 9781107065376
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £67.99 $86/€76 approx

About this book

Modern biological classification is based on the system developed by Linnaeus, and interpreted by Darwin as representing the tree of life. But despite its widespread acceptance, the evolutionary interpretation has some problems and limitations. This comprehensive book provides a single resource for understanding all the main philosophical issues and controversies about biological classification. It surveys the history of biological classification from Aristotle to contemporary phylogenetics and shows how modern biological classification has developed and changed over time. Readers will also be able to see how biological classification is in part a consequence of human psychology, language development and culture. Biological Classification will be valuable for student readers and others interested in a range of topics in philosophy and biology.


1. Why classify?
2. The Aristotelian framework
3. The Darwinian pivot
4. Evolutionary taxonomy and the Cladistic challenge
5. The tree of life
6. The species problem
7. The metaphysics of biological classification
8. Theory and the world
9. The essential tension

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Richard Richards is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Alabama. His publications include The Species Problem (2010) and many journal articles.

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