naming and types

Sat Nov 9 08:59:18 CST 1996

Dear Dr. Weiler,
   Thank you for your thoughtful comments. I find, however, that
some of your arguments miss my point while others actually
support my position.
   First, I never said non-European societies do not possess
folk taxonomy. With my experience in ethnobiology, I am very
well aware of that. The fact that every known language on Earth
has a folk taxonomy very similar to the European model bolsters
my contention that the categorization of nature is rooted in
human sensory input patterns.
   Second, I am baffled by your comment that I am "killing
myself," or that it means taxonomists should be separated into
dusty old museum separate from other biologists. The truth is
that yes, there is a difference between nomenclature and other
aspects of biology. Nomenclature is not a science at all, and
never has been. It is far older than most other aspects of
science, having a very different historical origin. We have
very wisely decided to make nomenclature reflect the course of
evolution, thus making an interplay between nomenclature and
science inevitable.
   Third, the first four of your five points could be handled
without assigning Latin names to the "cryptospecies" involved.
As for your fifth point, i.e. the idea that molecular studies
may help morphologically oriented systematists to pay closer
attention to minute morphological differences between taxa,
this supports my premise precisely. If you can find consistent
morphological differences, go ahead and write it up. Fine.
   Fourth, I am gravely disappointed that you do not want
any pins, as I could use the money.


Joseph E. Laferriere
Tucson, Arizona, USA
JosephL at

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