Positivism in evolutionary science

James Francis Lyons-Weiler weiler at ERS.UNR.EDU
Wed Dec 3 08:54:23 CST 1997

On Wed, 3 Dec 1997, Tom DiBenedetto wrote:

> On Wed, 3 Dec 1997 08:21:20 -0800, James Francis Lyons-Weiler wrote:
> >        I tend to balk at the positivisitic position that the processes of
> >        evolution (be they simple, complex, hierarchical, cyclical,
> >        neutral or Darwinian) will have occured in just the right way to
> >        allow us to summarize the geneaological relationships among
> >        organisms with a parsimony model, for example.
> Since you seem to be quite concerned with distinguishing real from
> artifactual patterns in data, I conclude that you accept that some
> patterns are real. If there is a real pattern in character
> distributions amongst a group of taxa, and this pattern is found
> consistently in various character systems, then the standard
> explanation for this pattern (ever since Darwin at least) is descent;
> i.e. genealogical relationship. Are you proposing that this
> explanation is in doubt, and if so, then what other causal factor(s)
> could result in such patterns?
        I'm not throwing out the baby with the bathwater, as your
        question would suggest.  I'm saying that we can do better
        by testing our assumptions.


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