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1 March: Jessica Gelber

“Could Aristotle countenance cross-kind teleology?”

Abstract: Despite an explicit claim in his Politics to the contrary, most scholars deny that Aristotle could have thought that teleological relations extend across different species of living organisms. After arguing that there is no good strategy for reconciling the remarks in the Politics with an ‘organism-centered’ interpretation of Aristotle’s natural teleology, I try to diagnose precisely what it is that appears problematic about cross-kind teleology, by Aristotle’s metaphysical lights, and argue that Aristotle in fact has the resources to address this. What emerges from seeing how Aristotle could coherently believe that some kinds are ‘for the sake of’ others is that his conception of essences is much richer than we might otherwise have thought.