standardized taxonomy

JOSEPH E. LAFERRIERE josephl at AZTEC.ASU.EDU
Mon Sep 7 04:16:54 CDT 1998


> >But does this group of composites represent one family with 12
> >tribes or one order with 12 families? That is a strictly human decision.
>
> It is also a human decision to recognize two separate subfamilies,
> Tubuliflorae and Liguliflorae, but it is a wrong decision (IMHO), an
> unscientific decision, because both turn out to be polyphyletic. It would
> make as much sense to group Hypochoeris and Felis because they both have
> "cat" as part of their English common names.

I suggest picking up a copy of Linnaeus's Species Plantarum. There, you
will find plants grouped into families and orders based not on
phylogenetic considerations but rather simply on the number of
stamens and pistils. Linnaeus, living before Darwin, knew
nothing of evolution nor phylogeny. He developed what to him seemed
a perfectly rational, sensible, scientific system. His classification
was indeed widely accepted and used in Europe and American for a
long time.
    Over 100 years later, some other scientists proposed that
we should use phylogeny rather than arithmetic as the basis for
grouping species into families, orders, etc. This viewpoint won
out and became the general consensus. The scientists who proposed
switching systems were human. The scientists who continue to
use phylogeny as a criterion for taxonomic decisions are human.
I have been told that I am more or less human. I assume you are human
as well. You say that accepting Liguliflorae would be "wrong."
It is wrong because it violates the human-generated criteria which
you have been taught by other humans.

> >The plants care about this even less than the cat.
>
> If *we*, as systematists, don't care, who will?

Exactly my point.

--
Dr. Joseph E. Laferriere
"Computito ergo sum ...  I link therefore I am."




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