Posts tagged ‘biology’

November 9, 2013

Convention (4) – Biological species

by Neil Rickert

This series of posts on convention originated with my comment to a post by John Wilkins, that I see species as being determined by convention.  See the first post in this series for links.  John disagrees with me, and gave reasons for his objections.  I plan to discuss those objections in the next in this series.  Today’s post will discuss why I take the designation of species to be conventional.


Biological classification is an example of categorization.  I take categorization to be a dividing up of the world into manageable parts.  This is often described as “carving the world at the seams.”  However, there aren’t enough seams to account for how we carve up the world.

As an example, consider the dividing of the USA into fifty states.  Some of the state borders are along rivers.  Some are survey lines.  We could perhaps think of rivers as natural diving lines, or seams, except that we often don’t use them even when rivers are available.

read more »

February 4, 2012

An interesting take on biology

by Neil Rickert

Elizabeth Liddle recently posted an interesting video link in a comment at UD.  In that video, Denis Noble discusses his view of biology, which he refers to as “Systems Biology.”  It is far closer to my own view of biology than is the Dawkins “Selfish Gene” model.  Perhaps that’s why I liked that lecture.  It emphasizes the organism as a whole, rather than the genome.

I suppose it might be controversial, though I’m not sure why it would be.  I have always thought of biology that way, with the DNA as being only part of the story.  I am mentioning it here, because I thing it is something people should at least think about.