"Fuzziness" (Continuity and classification)

Thomas DiBenedetto tdibenedetto at OCEANCONSERVANCY.ORG
Thu Jul 26 16:26:00 CDT 2001


In response to Rich Pyle's listing of 5 possible scenarios for the
resolution of the naming and classification wars, I would add one more
possible scenario. It is based on the perception that there is no authority
which can impose any of his 5, and so what we might see is a continuation of
trends that I percieve in present practice (and yes, I imagine others can
see other trends...)

6. Some cladists will continue to use a modified Linnaean system (abandoning
ranks for instance). Other cladists will adopt the Phylocode. And
"traditional" classification schemes ("evolutionary", neo-darwinian,
eclectic etc) will continue to fade from the scientific stage, and will take
their place along with the heuristic or special-purpose classifications that
one uses for particular non-scientific tasks. I think that the overwhleming
need for scientists (especially evolutionary scientists) to have a
classification scheme that can serve as a tool, by linking names to
lineages, will continue this trend.
There may then be a grand struggle between Linnaean cladists and phylocode
cladists, a struggle that I sense resonates with some pre-existing disputes
in the field. Perhaps a compromise is possible, a lot of deep debate in any
case.

Tom DiBenedetto




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