names and numbers

Richard Pyle deepreef at BISHOPMUSEUM.ORG
Sun Oct 21 00:35:04 CDT 2001

> and Richard Pyle responded:
> >In fact, specimen identifications are the *ultimate* assertions,
> Another way of saying this is that assigning a name to any specimen other
> than an identified type is a determination, and all determinations are
> subjective. This can never change if systematics is to remain a science,
> open to new data and interpretations.

Well stated!

> I think Richard's view of assertions
> is an extremely useful way of dealing with this reality in the
> context of a database.

Thanks! Actually, on a related issue, some very helpful off-list exchanges
I've been having (particularly with Martin Pullan) have helped me clarify in
my own mind the subtle but important distinction between what I am calling
an "Assertion", and what people think of as a "Circumscription". I had
casually equated the two concepts in earlier Taxacom posts, but I now have a
clearer understanding that the latter represents a very specific subset of
the former.

I'll withhold further elaboration of my perspective of this until some
interest is shown on the list for launching into that thread....


Richard L. Pyle
Ichthyology, Bishop Museum
1525 Bernice St., Honolulu, HI 96817
Ph: (808)848-4115, Fax: (808)847-8252
email: deepreef at
"The views expressed are the author's, and not necessarily those of Bishop

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