Article ID: CBB001422118

Grene and Hull on Types and Typological Thinking in Biology (2015)


Marjorie Grene (1910--2009) and David Hull (1935--2010) were among the most influential voices in late twentieth-century philosophy of biology. But, as Grene and Hull pointed out in published discussions of one another's work over the course of nearly forty years, they disagreed strongly on fundamental issues. Among these contested issues is the role of what is sometimes called “typology” and “typological thinking” in biology. In regard to taxonomy and the species problem, Hull joined Ernst Mayr's construal of typological thinking as a backward relic of pre-Darwinian science that should be overcome. Grene, however, treated the suspicion of typological thinking that characterized Hull's views, as well as those of other architects of the New Evolutionary Synthesis, as itself suspicious and even unsustainable. In this paper I review three debates between Grene and Hull bearing on the question of the validity of so-called typological thinking in biology: (1) a debate about the dispensability of concepts of “type” within evolutionary theory, paleontology, and taxonomy; (2) a debate about whether species can be adequately understood as individuals, and thereby independently of those forms of thinking Hull and Mayr had construed as “typological”; and (3) a debate about the prospects of a biologically informed theory of human nature.

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Authors & Contributors
Witteveen, Joeri
Bernardi, Massimo
Menegon, Michele
Bertoldi, Nicola
Edge, Michael D.
Bellati, Adriana
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Journal of the History of Biology
History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences
Spontaneous Generations
Perspectives on Science
História, Ciências, Saúde---Manguinhos
University of Toronto
Classification in biology
Species concept (biology)
Mayr, Ernst
Dobzhansky, Theodosius
Simpson, George Gaylord
Gould, Stephen Jay
Hull, David Lee
Toulmin, Stephen
Time Periods
20th century, late
21st century
20th century
19th century
20th century, early
United States
Southern Europe
Eastern Europe
International Committee on the Taxonomy of Viruses

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