How Are Species Discovered?

Declarative Speech Acts in Biology

In: Grazer Philosophische Studien

The aim of this paper is twofold: The general aim is to shed light on the structure of species discoveries new to biology by bringing together a practice-oriented philosophy of science perspective with a philosophy of language perspective. The more specific aim is to argue that and to show how the overall structure of biological species discoveries comprises aspects of both institutional and non-institutional reality. The author proceeds as follows: (1) he shows that placing the focus on the topic of scientific discoveries enables us to circumvent two long-standing problems. (2) He analyzes three fictional cases of discoveries in order to bring about a greater sensitivity for the concept of discovery. (3) He takes a closer look at a real example – the discovery of a deep-sea anglerfish – and identifies the main structural features of species discovery processes in biology. (4) In order to connect these results with Searle’s account of institutional reality, he provides an overview of the conceptual apparatus needed here. (5) In bringing Searle’s account together with the structural features of species discoveries developed before, he shows to what extent declarative speech acts play a central role in species discovery processes in biology.

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