Positivism in evolutionary science

Tom DiBenedetto tdib at UMICH.EDU
Wed Dec 3 08:41:21 CST 1997

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?

Tom DiBenedetto                 http://www-personal.umich.edu/~tdib/
Fish Division                                   tdib at umich.edu
University of Michigan Museum of Zoology

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