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date: 19 February 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article begins by noting that in the history of life, every species up to presently existing species has become extinct. Complex life itself has been on the brink of annihilation at various points in the evolutionary process. A problem, given this history, is whether we should regard the causing or the permitting of the extinction of species as a bad outcome to be avoided. It notes that so-called common-sense intuitions about these matters are not trustworthy and often do not hold up to theoretical scrutiny. Using the evolutionary and ecological sciences, the discussion takes the currently received view that species should be analyzed in terms of individual lineages and not as a temporal natural kinds.

Keywords: extinction, life history, evolution, ecological sciences

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