Boolean games (was: Latin names versus scientific names)

Curtis Clark jcclark-lists at EARTHLINK.NET
Fri Mar 11 07:46:26 CST 2005

on 2005-03-11 06:36 Ken Kinman wrote:
> Curtis, Yes, we are well aware that every paraphyletic group can be
> so specified by Boolean operations, but why should we ALWAYS have to
> do so just because you strict cladists DEFINE paraphyly as bad and
> unnatural?

Once again, you are not listening. I specified some months ago that I
have come to regard paraphyletic groups as natural, because they can be
unambiguously derived from clades. My objections to them are on
different grounds, one of which is the confusion they seem to have
introduced in Tom's teaching of the embryophytes.

> And for heaven's sake, should we avoid saying
> "reptile",

I say "reptile", "dicot", and "fish" all the time. I also say "kleenex"
and "ice", being too specific in the first case and not specific enough
in the latter. I find "air", "fire", "water", and "earth" an adequate
accounting of the elements in some contexts, but I would never teach
that to a chemistry class, even though none of the students could
visualize the appearance of 25 C elemental astatine if their lives
depended on it.

A few days ago, many of us were discussing vernacular names, and a
number of us pointed out that different kinds of names have different
purposes. While I object to paraphyletic formal taxa, both paraphyletic
and even polyphyletic groups concepts ("worms", e.g.) can be useful in
some contexts. It's when we try to shoe-horn all of human experience
into a specific world-view that we run into problems (and yes, I'm
accusing you of doing what you claim, in some cases correctly, that
cladists do).

Curtis Clark        
Web Coordinator, Cal Poly Pomona                 +1 909 979 6371
Professor, Biological Sciences                   +1 909 869 4062

More information about the Taxacom mailing list