Volume 4, Issue 2, 2012
Species ontology in light of the debate about the existence of laws in biology
In this paper I explore how the discussion about the existence of laws in biology, more specifically laws about species taxa, bears on the issue of whether species are kinds or individuals. One of the main arguments offered in favor of the view that species are individuals is that it explains the lack of laws about species taxa, since laws cannot refer to individuals. My aim in this paper is to question the premise that there are no laws about species axa and consequently to show that the proposed argument fails. I will argue that even if there are no strict scientific laws about species taxa, still, scientifically interesting, law-like generalizations are made which are used for explaining phenomena and predicting properties of species members. The existence of these law-like generalizations, in turn, suggests that species are, at least prima facie, best conceived of as kinds.