Over time the complex idea of "species" has evolved, yet its meaning is far from resolved. This comprehensive work is a fresh look at an idea central to the field of biology by tracing its history from antiquity to today. Species: The Evolution of the Idea (published as Species: A History of the Idea in its first edition) is a benchmark exploration and clarification of a concept fundamental to the past, present, and future of the natural sciences. In this edition, a section is added on the debate over species since the time of the New Synthesis, and brings the book up to date. A section on recent philosophical debates over species has also been added. This edition is better suited non-specialists in philosophy, so that it will be of greater use for scientists wishing to understand how the notion came to be that living organisms form species.
- Prologue: The Received View
- The failure of the Received View
- The historical development of "species"
- The classical era: Science by division
- The medieval bridge
- Species and the birth of modern science
- The Noah's Ark part is new, based on my later research
- The nineteenth century, a period of change
- Darwin and the Darwinians
- Non-Darwinian ideas after Darwin
- The Synthesis and species
- Modern debates
- Philosophical treatments
John Wilkins PhD is Honorary Fellow at the University of Melbourne, Australia, and Research Fellow at the Ronin Institute, Monclair, NJ. He has taught at the University of Queensland, the University of Sydney, the University of New South Wales, and the University of Melbourne. He is the author of Species: A History of the Idea (2009), and Defining Species (2009), co-author of The Nature of Classification (2013), and edited Intelligent Design and Religion as a Natural Phenomenon (2010). He has published on species, the evolution of religion, cognition, and the history and philosophy of science. He lives in Melbourne Australia.
"The most comprehensive, encyclopedic account of the history of the thinking about species [...] Truly impressive."
– Science & Education
"The most comprehensive work of its kind. It will appeal to students in a diverse set of disciplines, including systematics, taxonomy, history, and philosophy [...] Highly recommended."
"Provides a comprehensive and interesting synthesis of the species problem today in the context of changing ideologies through history."
– Journal Of Human Evolution Blog
"Provides a thorough background in this important topic [...] A valuable resource."
– Nsta Recommends
"If you want to know about the views on species of any major, and many minor figures, there is a good chance you will find useful information. No other book provides this kind of comprehensive, historical account of the thinking about species. As reference work, this book is impressive."
– Int'l History, Philosophy, & Science Teaching Group Newsletter
"A useful source for literature, ideas, and history of the topic."
– James Mallet Integrative & Comparative Bio (Sicb)
"Provides an encyclopedic history of the idea of species from Plato to the present."
– Darwinian Conservatism Blog
"[A] congenial book."
– Oxford Journal
"Few topics have engaged biologists and philosophers more than the concept of species, and arguably no idea is more important for evolutionary science. John S. Wilkins' book combines meticulous historical and philosophical analysis and thus provides new insights on the development of this most enduring of subjects."
– Joel Cracraft, American Museum of Natural History
"This is not the potted history that one usually finds in texts and review articles. It is a fresh look at the history of a field central to biology, but one whose centrality has changed in scope over the centuries. Wilkins' book will be a standard source for all kinds of people working in systematics. There is not another book on the subject, amazingly enough, and his perspective is so comprehensive and well-taught that it will replace any standard review articles and older histories."
– Kevin Padian, University of California, Berkeley
"An essential sourcebook for anyone interested in the species problem and the history of 'species.' Wilkins does a wonderful job detangling the various uses of 'species.' His book brings clarity to a topic marked by confusion and ambiguity."
– Marc Ereshefsky, author of The Poverty of Linnaean Hierarchy: A Philosophical Study of Biological Taxonomy