lammers at VAXA.CIS.UWOSH.EDU
Mon Nov 18 14:36:02 CST 2002
At 12:30 PM 11/18/02 -0800, Barry Roth wrote:
>This might be the best opportunity to make a point I have had in mind for
>some time, namely, that there is ambiguity in the use of the term
>"system." Ken's system is a system in the sense of "Systema Naturae,"
>that is, a taxonomic formulation that is systematic (i.e., not haphazard,
>but organized on the basis of serious consideration of the data). It is
>not a system in the sense of a methodological prescription that tells you
>in advance how to go about dealing with whatever data may arise and
>provides the algorithms for so doing.
>The practice of "eclectism" (of which the Kinman system is surely just one
>example) apparently includes a willingness to recognize paraphyletic
>groups and a spirit of compromise. These are relatively loose guidelines,
>which two or more individual workers, having devised their own taxonomies,
>could claim to have followed. Those guidelines themselves do not provide
>advice for other parties to prefer one or the other of those
>taxonomies. (Consider being asked to decide which of two such taxonomies
>is "the more compromising"!) Without some additional criteria, such as
>"the better taxonomy is the one with fewer paraphyletic groups," I don't
>see how such a system does much to resolve conflict among differing views.
>This is less of a criticism than an attempt to understand.
Granted. It is but one of many times in syatematics and biology where we
confuse a *process* and the *product* it creates. "Cronquist's
classification [i.e., product] recognizes two classes
...." "Classification [i.e., process] involves circumscription, ..."
The way to "resolve conflict among differing views" [i.e., different
classificatory products] is to remember they are hypotheses. How do we
discriminate among hypotheses? Test them. Examine a new class of data,
e.g., gene sequences. Does this type of data support the current
hypothesis or falsify it? If the latter, cast a new
hypothesis. Cladistics is just a way of creating (and I suppose testing)
Thomas G. Lammers, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor and Curator of the Herbarium (OSH)
Department of Biology and Microbiology
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Oshkosh, Wisconsin 54901-8640 USA
e-mail: lammers at uwosh.edu
Plant systematics; classification, nomenclature, evolution, and biogeography
of the Campanulaceae s. lat.
"Today's mighty oak is yesterday's nut that stood his ground."
More information about the Taxacom