Real taxa => Ranking

Richard.Zander at MOBOT.ORG Richard.Zander at MOBOT.ORG
Wed Sep 29 13:54:25 CDT 2004

Well, isn't the word "objective" a major problem itself? How about
substituting the word "useful"? I think Don Colless touched on this a moment

Richard H. Zander
Bryology Group
Missouri Botanical Garden
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-----Original Message-----
From: Richard Pyle [mailto:deepreef at BISHOPMUSEUM.ORG]
Sent: Tuesday, September 28, 2004 3:02 PM
Subject: Re: [TAXACOM] Real taxa => Ranking

> Assigning higher taxonomic rank will *always* be subjective,
> because the higher rankings are *constructs* of *humans* attempting to
> indicate some level of evolutionary relationship.  The key item here is
> that *humans* are involved in the process of naming, so it can't
> be objective!!

As you said, I think most taxonomists/systematists would agree with this.
The point of contention seems to be whether the same statement applies to
species, subpecies, and other "lower" taxonomic ranks.  I have several times
challenged this list to persuade me that there is *any* taxonomic rank that
can be thought of as objective.  Although there have been some very
interesting (and spirited!) discussions, my challenge has gone unmet.


Richard L. Pyle, PhD
Ichthyology, Bishop Museum
1525 Bernice St., Honolulu, HI 96817
Ph: (808)848-4115, Fax: (808)847-8252
email: deepreef at

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