The species problem and its logic: Inescapable Ambiguity and Framework-relativity

The species problem and its logic: Inescapable Ambiguity and Framework-relativity
Steven James Bartlett

For more than fifty years, taxonomists have proposed numerous alternative definitions of species while they searched for a unique, comprehensive, and persuasive definition. This monograph shows that these efforts have been unnecessary, and indeed have provably been a pursuit of a will o’ the wisp because they have failed to recognize the theoretical impossibility of what they seek to accomplish. A clear and rigorous understanding of the logic underlying species definition leads both to a recognition of the inescapable ambiguity that affects the definition of species, and to a framework-relative approach to species definition that is logically compelling, i.e., cannot not be accepted without inconsistency. An appendix reflects upon the conclusions reached, applying them in an intellectually whimsical taxonomic thought experiment that conjectures the possibility of an emerging new human species.

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