binomial elimination

Adam Wexler fuller at U.WASHINGTON.EDU
Fri Mar 17 20:08:21 CST 1995

 I agree with Norman, nomenclature has nothing to do with biology.
It only establishes a convenient set of
markers which then can be used to describe the natural world.  This is
what the code tells us, a type specimen is only there to attach a name to
a marker, nothing more.  Nomenclature does not deal with evolution, thus
the difficulty when infraspecific classification is used.  Here biology
creeps into nomenclature. Abolishing the Linnaen system would only result
in the implementation of another artificial classification scheme.  From
those suggested by persons such as David Wright, this would be a much
more cumbersome, confusing, and illogical system.  We are human beings,
it is foolish to expect our view of the world to be untainted.  If you
really want to talk philosophy why don't we discuss if man is natural or
artificial -- it has the same value to taxonomy as the current arguement.

As to ranks, yes they are artificial, yes they may not really represent
true evolutionary lineages, but we DO NOT have the entire picture.
Massive phylogenetic surveys (Chase et al. 1990) are a new thing, and one's
conclusions are only as good as the bootstrap values on a particular
tree branch.  Even if we did know the true evolutionary relationships of
I seriously doubt it would affect our floras.  Maybe they would be
organized differently, but the keys would still work the same.

As for David's last message if we knew which groups were truely
monophyletic then yes they would belong to either the same genus or
family.  The split being dependent on character clustering and ultimately
the judgement of the taxonomist working on the group.

Taxonomy has always been, and may always be a game of ordering our
world.  A view which will undoubtably change with every new way in which
we percieve our environment.  Our current system will evolve just as the
organisms which we study, but it works the way it is, and it works
well.  Theoreticians will always find fault with practical systems, that's
the difference between theory and reality!

Enough is Enough!
Adam Wexler
Dept. Of Botany
University Of Washington

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