Cladistics and "Eclecticism"

Thomas DiBenedetto tdib at OCEANCONSERVANCY.ORG
Fri Feb 8 10:26:39 CST 2002

-----Original Message-----
From: P.Hovenkamp
As I understand it now, in your view the existence of species is dependent
on the success of the colonizers "in any real sense". What I wonder about
is how this can be made into an exact distinction (sorry - if you don't see
any use for exactness, you'd better withdraw from this thread). How much
success is required? How viable must the new lineage be?
The lineage branch would have to be viable long enough for a systematist to
discover it (to recognize it as a taxon). If it isn't, then it will join the
big set of extinct lineage branches that are forever lost to history.
 If a short-term
lineage is established, does that permanently split the fabric of the
species? Did any lineages "back-speciate" when the Dodo went extinct?
No, because we have evidence of the Dodo - like extinct species known only
from fossils, they can be discovered even when extinct.
We will never know about millions of the short-term lineages that died out
without a trace. But if we do have evidence of one, then it should be
recognized in its proper place.

AND - Hot off the presses:
>"As a corporal level soldier, Jensen no longer exists. He is obsolent,
>invalid". I suppose it is technically correct in a sense, but it doesn't
>sound like a very good way to communicate meaning.
I don't see this as a very appropriate example.
I am an individual being called Peter Hovenkamp. I was called Peter
Hovenkamp as a boy, and after I was promoted to adulthood, I was still
called Peter Hovenkamp. So far, so good. But after I'm deceased, there will
only be my two sons, Jan Hovenkamp and Pieter Hovenkamp. Is there any sense
to a system in which they should also be called "Peter Hovenkamp"?
Geez Peter, gimme a break. Is is not an _example_it was an _analogy_.
Analogies, by definition, have elements that parallel the topic under
discussion, elements that can be pointed to in order to illustrate the point
that one wishes to make. They also necessarly have elements that are
different and are to be ignored because they are not relevant to the point.
I am aware that military organizational hierarchies are of a different type
than internested taxanomic hierarchies - but those differences are not
relevant to my point. In fact, given the differences between the two types
of hierarchy, it is far more rational to speak about the extinction of
corporal Jensen than it is to speak of the extinction of a lineage that has
Now I will give you a chance to make these charges against me, by pointing
out that your example/analogy is bad as well. Your name applies to you, and
then you die. Taxon names apply to taxa which, in our example, diverge, they
do not die.
I would also point out, just for fun, that if you lived in Iceland, for
example, your sons would be called Jan and Pieter Peterson. Now that is a
mature culture in touch with "Nature"!  :)

Tom DiBenedetto

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