How many species 2: What is a species, and Why does it matter?

One of the questions asked in the comments of the previous post in this series is quite pointed, and very much on topic for this discussion, so I’m going to take a minute or two to answer it. I’ll give the answer to the example in another post, that will shortly follow this one. Karl asked:

So why are you asking that question? How is “species” defined. Does it really have a definition? Does it matter? Isn’t “species” just a modern reaction to the biblical term “kinds”

Now that I’ve taken a few minutes to think about it, I’m starting to remember why I was dodging that question. I could write a long, rambling discourse on the topic, but in all honesty the best I can do for a definition of “species” is to paraphrase Justice Stewart’s concurring opinion in Jacobellis v. Ohio: I might not ever be able to intelligently define the term, but I know it when I see it.

Read more (at The Questionable Authority):