Thomas Pape thomas.pape at NRM.SE
Wed Jun 18 09:51:19 CDT 1997

At 11.12 1997-06-17 -0300, Doug Yanega wrote:

>.... many of us may be content with the
>idea of a good character "subjectively considered so by the expert"..

I should rather see some explicit arguments. But of course, even 'arguments'
can be considered subjective in the sense that everything passing through
the human mind necessarily becomes biased as opposed to reality as it is in

At 13.33 1997-06-17 -0300, Doug Yanega wrote:

>If you claim we don't have to accept the shortest tree as
>the best hypothesis, if we have information external to that which was used
>to construct the tree (hypotheses of peripheral isolation in the present
>case), then you are in fact arguing for some permissible degree of

Subjectivity is testing the truth solely by standards which can be applied
only by the individual subject making the judgment instead of some objective
criterion accessible to others (as logical reasoning, history...) [Webster's].

At 15.49 1997-06-18 +1000, Don Colless wrote:

> what is NOT good science is the notion that some algorithm can, on its own,
>yield a truly scientific result.

Algorithms, of course, will do only what they are 'told' to do. This is not

>One can still "reflect" a lot of history, but perhaps not all of it,
>as a strictly isomorphic classification...

The more we learn about evolutionary history, the more we want to
communicate about it. Names greatly facilitate communication, and for that
reason I should like classifications to match this history. I would even
like to be able to communicate about "taxa, some of which are distinctive,
but others practically indistinguishable" (if the latter implies that these
taxa are, after all, distinguishable).


Thomas Pape
Department of Entomology
Swedish Museum of Natural History       Voice: +46 8666 4094
Box 50007                               Fax:   +46 8666 4099
S - 104 05 Stockholm, SWEDEN            e-mail: thomas.pape at

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