Real species and ideology

Nico Mario Franz nmf2 at CORNELL.EDU
Thu Apr 22 12:40:39 CDT 2004

For actual practice, the implications are indirect and probably not
earth-shattering. Practice often drives science more than theory. Think
pre-Darwinians were hard-nosed essentialists? Look at how they allowed
polythetic classifications, character reversals, convergences, and so on.

But imagine taxonomy portraying itself as an artificial, merely
"idea-constructing," non-experimental, non-applied, non-statistical field.
Then go out and compete (with this excessively negative view) with other
biological disciplines for positions and funding. We taxonomists sometimes
have it backwards. Our remaining issues are truly hard problems.
Philosophical attidutes don't make evolution any less complex. Meanwhile
what we (have) achieve(d) can measure up favorably with a lot of other
stuff, like trying to classify the world into specialists and generalists
and saying one controls to other.

So portraying taxonomy as a reality-centered, hypothesis-testing,
well-founded scientific endeavor is both philosophically accurate and
strategically (perhaps even ethically) required if you think your
discipline is going somewhere. If we continued to lower taxonomy more than
necessary, it would change our research by rendering it even more unfairly
neglected. That surely is change.



From:         HJJACOBSON at AOL.COM
Subject:      Re: Real species and ideology
Comments: To: jgrehan at SCIENCEBUFF.ORG

To all in this discussion

If it were revealed that species were real, how would it change your


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