Centres of origin

P.Hovenkamp Hovenkamp at NHN.LEIDENUNIV.NL
Mon Apr 22 14:32:38 CDT 2002

At 07:56 AM 4/22/02 -0400, John Grehan wrote:
>Peter Hovenkamp wrote:
>>Mmm - interesting. So if I try to explain the currently pantropical
>>distribution of, say, Nephrolepis multiflora to the best of my ability and
>>on basis of the currently accepted knowledge, I am participating in a
>>metaphysical research program?
>According to Craw and Weston, yes.
>>Reading a little bit between the lines, I feel that such questions to John
>>Grehan are not part of Science.
>In what respect? Please clarify.

I'll try, but much of this is based on context rather than a literal reading...
Firstly, I wrote "questions" where I meant "explanations". That may already
be all the clarification needed...

On the other hand, it may not be. In that case, I start with noting that in
an earlier post (Tue, 16 Apr 2002 10:30:59 -0400) John Grehan wrote:

A couple of recent comments on the origin of the Galapagos focused on
geological reconstructions having priority over biogeographic evidence.
This points to one of the most intriguing aspects of biogeography as
practiced by most biogeographers who look to geological theory as the
foundation for historical reconstruction.

It seems to me that this practice renders biogeography as simply making up
historical stories (usually based on some kind of notion of center of
origin and dispersal) conforming to the geological story. In this context
biogeography does not exist as a science. What is intriguing about this
(for me) is the apparent willingness of most biogeographers to reduce their
discipline to the status of a non-science. At least that's how it seems to me.
end quote:

And coupled with the remark about metaphysical research programmes:

center of origin/dispersalist approaches are a collection of metaphysical
research programs that aim to provide explanation in the light of currently
accepted knowledge rather than prediction beyond or counter to such knowledge.

this seemed to me to imply that John Grehan's position is that historical
explanations using geological and other currently accepted knowledge are
not science.

Of course I may have been completely mistaken by seeing a relation between
these two quotes In which case I'd be only too glad to hear it.

Peter Hovenkamp

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