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The nature of extinction
Author: Delord, Julien
Journal: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Volume: 38
Year: 2007
Pages: 656—667

The phenomenon of species extinction raises more and more concern among ecologists facing the actual crisis of biodiversity. Scientific investigations of the causes and effects of extinction must be completed by a philosophical analysis of the concept of extinction that aims to clarify the meanings of the term [`]extinction' and to analyse modalities, criteria and degrees of extinction. We will focus our attention on the apparent paradox of the possible [`]resurrection' of species in the near future with the help of genetic biotechnology and cloning techniques. The ontological background of the extinction concept is analysed in relation to the idea of species as classes. We will also show that there is no simple analogy between death and species extinction, and develop a conceptualist and dualistic system of supra-individual entities (species vs. population), supported by an instrumentalist approach to genetic manipulations which transform species into interactive kinds, which can go extinct and be recreated.