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By: John Dupré
272 pages, no illustrations
Explores the ways in which we categorize animals, including humans, and comes to surprisingly radical conclusions. The author opposes the idea that there is only one legitimate way of classifying things in the natural world, the 'scientific' way. The lesson we should learn from Darwin is to reject the idea that each organism has an essence that determines its necessary place in the unique hierarchy of things. Nature is not like that: it is not organized in a single system. There is no universal principle by which organisms can be sorted into species; still less is there any unique way of classifying kinds of humans. We are obliged to accept that different classificatory schemes are valid for different purposes, and therefore to take a pluralistic view of biology and the human sciences. These provocative and readable essays move on to discuss a set of contentious topics relating to human nature.
REVIEWS FROM PREVIOUS EDITION [Dupre's] approach also enables us to say, ina full-blooded way, that sociopolitical concerns affect the content of science and vice versa. Dupre's approach thus seems a promising one towards a rapprochement between factions in the science wars. Tim Lewens, Mind REVIEWS FROM PREVIOUS EDITION This is a fine collection of essays: informed, challenging, and provocative. I have certainly been provoked, but there is much to admire in the collection. Kim Sterelny, Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science
Introduction; I.KINDS OF ANIMALS IN EVERYDAY LIFE; 1. Natural Kinds and Biological Taxa; 2. Are Whales Fish?; II. KINDS OF ANIMALS IN BIOLOGICAL SCIENCE; 3. On the Impossibility of a Monistic Account of Species; 4. In Defence of Classification; III. KINDS OF KINDS; 5. Is 'Natural Kind' a Natural Kind Term?; IV. KINDS OF PEOPLE; 6. Human Kinds; 7. Darwin and Human Nature; V. GENDERED PEOPLE; 8. Sex, Gender, and Essence; 9. What the Theory of Evolution Can't Tell Us; VI. DIFFERENCES BETWEEN HUMANS AND OTHER ANIMALS; 10. The Mental Lives of Non-Human Animals; 11. Conversations with Apes
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