Biology | Philosophy | Philosophy of Science
Developments in genetic engineering may soon allow biologists to clone organisms from extinct species. The process, dubbed “de-extinction,” has been publicized as a means to bring extinct species back to life. For theorists and philosophers of biology, the process also suggests a thought experiment for the ongoing “species problem”: given a species concept, would a clone be classified in the extinct species? Previous analyses have answered this question in the context of specific de-extinction technologies or particular species concepts. The thought experiment is given more comprehensive treatment here. Given the products of three de-extinction technologies, twenty-two species concepts are “tested” to see which are consistent with the idea that species may be resurrected. The ensuing discussion considers whether or not de-extinction is a conceptually coherent research program and, if so, whether or not its development may contribute to a resolution of the species problem. Ultimately, theorists must face a choice: they may revise their commitments to species concepts (if those concepts are inconsistent with de-extinction) or they may recognize de-extinction as a means to make progress in the species problem.
This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in Biology & Philosophy. The final authenticated version is available online at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10539-018-9639-x.
De-extinction and the conception of species.
Biology & Philosophy, 2018, volume 33, issue 5-6, article 32
Finkelman, Leonard, "De-Extinction and the Conception of Species" (2018). Faculty Publications. Accepted Version. Submission 5.