B.J.Tindall bti at DSMZ.DE
Wed Nov 12 16:29:56 CST 2003

I am not going to disagree with that. This is one of the problems with the
original question, which relates to molecular methods helping to find
sibling species.
"It's the business of science to find out what that reality is. Getting the
definition right (enough) can often come much later than getting the name
So the question goes full circle and you have to work out when you have
sibling species which you can't tell apart morphologically and have to use
molecular methods. I could, of course add what is the "evolutionary entity"
which we name - a species or a population (which may only be part of a
species)? However, that probably links into another debate about what is a

At 09:09 12.11.2003 -0500, Nico M. Franz wrote:
>    I think Locke was one of the main players in the nominalist (as opposed
>to essentialist) tradition. A more contemporary view would be that both
>humans AND the world make up the content of definitions, and perhaps the
>world has the final say. That would explain why some definitions last as
>theoretical explanations (pre-/post-Darwinian) change, others get
>successively refined in light of better evidence, and still others change
>    In order to propose a name for an evolutionary entity and use it
>reliably it's not required to have an even remotely accurate definition.
>This was illustrated by Kripke (1980, Naming and Necessity). We can simply
>point at something, give it a name, and then pass this on from generation
>to generation. Yet that something may well have a reality going beyond our
>chain of communication. Of course we may also be wrong. It's the business
>of science to find out what that reality is. Getting the definition right
>(enough) can often come much later than getting the name right.
>    To complicate matters, the "naturalness" of entities is partly
>constituted by how much using them contributes to progress in particular
>disciplines. It would make sense for bacteriologists to use different
>naming procedures to the extent that evolutionary processes really are
>different in comparison to vertebrates.
> >From: "B.J.Tindall" <bti at DSMZ.DE>
> >
> >I agree that you can't directly compare a sexually reproducing vertebrate
> >with an asexually reproducing prokaryote, but as John Locke said in 1689:
> >
> >"The boundaries of the species, whereby men sort them, are made by men."
> >
> >True, there are units out there, in nature, which have separated themselves
> >from other units, and tend to be part of one gene pool, but the problem is
> >to define what constitutes that "unit". It is a bit like defining the
> >metre. There is no "natural" definition, so we set the definition and then
> >you can accurately define any fraction or multiple of it.
> >Brian

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