Farewell to Species

Ken Kinman kinman at HOTMAIL.COM
Mon Jan 31 14:30:44 CST 2000


Peter et al.,
     I would agree with almost everything you said, except one thing.  I do
not think the Linnaean hierarchical system will be unable to cope with the
increasing amounts of information (new clades, newly discovered forms, etc.)
if it is properly modified to incorporate future new data.
      This is one of the main reasons I devised the Kinman System
(introduced in my 1994 book).  Why this kind of classification (modified
Linnaean) wasn't proposed a long time ago is a mystery to me.  I agree that
it is disconcerting to think of two different classification systems
competing in the literature, and in a way it would be a formalization of the
confusion that has plagued systematic biology for over 30 years now.
      The sad thing is that such confusion and instability are simply
unnecessary, and the Kinman System can eventually lead to classifications
that are simultaneously more stable and more informative (contrary to the
popular belief that this is not possible).
                       ------Ken Kinman

>From: "P. F. Stevens" <peter.stevens at MOBOT.ORG>
>Reply-To: "P. F. Stevens" <peter.stevens at MOBOT.ORG>
>To: TAXACOM at USOBI.ORG
>Subject: Re: Farewell to Species
>Date: Mon, 31 Jan 2000 15:52:03 -0500
>
> >I wonder if others might have some comments on the two recent papers in
> >Systematic Biology 48(4):
> >
> >Phylogenetic taxonomy, a farewell to species, and a revision of .... by
> >Pleijel,
> >and
> >Species names in phylogenetic nomenclature, by Cantino et al.
>
>I think the issue will turn on correct diagnosis of the problem - at least
>I hope it will.  How it turns out will surely depend on group dynamics, as
>well, but surely the last thing one that wants to see is two systems of
>naming in use in the same journal...
>
>I see the issue as being rightly much connected with librarianship, as the
>binomial itself originally was (see Heller et al.), and that is partly why
>binomials were relatively quickly accepted (one might also look at "folk"
>taxonomies in this context).  I do not see any historical argument against
>the use of binomials or hierarchies; words do not have fixed meanings, so
>to suggest that the hierarchy necessarily reflects essences, 'real'  rank,
>etc., are perhaps questionable, especially when you look at what
>systematists have said and done over the years.  Similarly, I feel no force
>in suggestions that names have to reflect in some way the "nature" of the
>things that are named - the late 18thC was a great time for ideas of this
>kind.
> >
> > Name changes that depend on notions (intuitive or analytic) of which
> >grade the species should go into are >tedious and exasperating, and a
> >uninomial is something to be wished for at times late at night when
>poring
> >>over one's Code. The genus name is definitely a help, however, in
> >everyday tasks since it functions as a >(Latinized) vernacular name.
>
>This is one nub of the issue.  Names are for communication, and whatever
>system of naming/philosophy of systematics one follows, one will, I think,
>have to accept that a major element of convention informs the
>cirumscription of the particular chunks of nature that one refers to in
>general conversation and teaching.  From a phylogenetic perspective, given
>the ever increasing number of monophyletic groups that could be named - and
>with which almost any conceivable development of the Linnaean hierarchy in
>terms of proliferation of ranks will be unable to cope -  this is necessary
>if we are to understand each other readily.  (Note that a similar argument
>is applicable whatever perspective one adopts.)  Of course, to use the word
>communication without clarifying between whom communication will be
>occuring is in part begging the question, but I will deal with this issue
>later, if needs be.
>
>What is really broken, and needs fixing, and will the fixing in fact create
>more problems than it fixes?
>
>Peter S.
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