generic oversplitting (heart of the problem)

Ken Kinman kinman at HOTMAIL.COM
Tue Jul 17 15:32:46 CDT 2001

     I apologize to all for painting "cladists" with such a broad brush.
Even strict cladists (those who practice phylogenetic taxonomy devoid of any
formal paraphyly) are indeed divided over the PhyloCode issue (and other
issues as well).  Although I approve of and use some cladistic analysis
myself, I avoid referring to myself as a cladist, because it might be
interpreted as saying that I am a strict cladist when it comes to
     As for the question of paraphyly referred to by John, that was my
point, but perhaps I stated it poorly.  Paraphyletic groups have an
immediate common ancestor, just as holophyletic groups do.  That is why both
of these kind of groups were termed "monophyletic" before that term was
restricted in meaning by the "strict" cladists.  We all agree that
polyphyletic groups are undesirable.  But paraphyletic groups can be so
easily converted into semi-holophyletic (= semi-paraphyletic) groups by just
adding a {{marker}} for the exgroup that has been formally removed.
     This one single convention could solve so many of our present
classificatory problems that it astounded me back in the late 1970's that it
was not being proposed by workers on either side of the cladisto-eclectic
debate.  Perhaps PhyloCode will actually help trigger more interest in such
a convention (which is the heart of my own cladisto-eclectic approach) as
the only way out of the current turmoil.
      Whether or not most phylogenetic taxonomists (strict cladists) support
PhyloCode is beside the point----it is probably going to cause a lot more
confusion than we already have.  It's a shame there aren't a lot more
Ashlockian cladists, who believe in cladistic analysis (when done well), but
do not adhere to strictly cladistic (phylogenetic) classification.  An
Ashlockian approach, coupled with my simple convention for exgroups, is
almost certainly where we are going to end up eventually, so why put it off
and go through even more turmoil?   If we can't get our own house in order,
we can't be surprised when more people turn elsewhere (such as to common
names).  Such a trend is not good, but it is understandable.  And perhaps it
is a warning of what is to come if we continue to prolong the
Cladisto-Eclectic Schism that is now at least 35 years old.
>From: John Grehan <jrg13 at PSU.EDU>
>Reply-To: John Grehan <jrg13 at PSU.EDU>
>Subject: Re: generic oversplitting (heart of the problem)
>Date: Tue, 17 Jul 2001 08:40:22 -0400
>>And of course branding paraphyly as something
>>to be reviled and attacked as though such taxa have no immediate common
>>ancestor (as in polyphyly) is as absurd as it is destabilizing.
>I thought the cladistic position was not that paraphyletic taxa have no
>immediate common ancestor, but that the ancestor thus designated did not
>include all the descendants.
>>      And they want to institutionalize this into a separate Code??
>"They" seems a bit ambiguous here as it seems to imply "they" refers to
>cladists. If so this would seem to be a bit misleading as not all cladists
>are necessarily in support of the code alternative and I recall that at
>least one cladist made this position clear in an earlier posting.
>John Grehan
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