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Divine MachinesLeibniz and the Sciences of Life$
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Justin E. H. Smith

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691141787

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691141787.001.0001

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The Nature and Boundaries of Biological Species

The Nature and Boundaries of Biological Species

(p.235) Chapter Seven The Nature and Boundaries of Biological Species
Divine Machines

Justin E. H. Smith

Princeton University Press

This chapter shows that Leibniz's analysis of the nature and boundaries of biological species is very different from his now well-known nominalist account of the species of, for example, mathematical objects, and even of ordinary physical objects. With respect to plants and animals Leibniz positions himself squarely in the species-fixist camp, like his contemporary John Ray, the English naturalist who insists that “the number of true species in nature is fixed and limited and, as we may reasonably believe, constant and unchangeable from the first creation to the present day.” Leibniz, like Ray, believes that all species were formed at the Creation and will remain fixed for all time, notwithstanding his simultaneous belief in the possibility of tremendous morphological change in a species over time and even of tremendous morphological change or “transformation” over the course of an individual creature's life.

Keywords:   G. W. Leibniz, biology, biological species, John Ray, Creation

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