Are species real?

Thomas G. Lammers lammers at UWOSH.EDU
Tue Apr 11 07:38:13 CDT 2006

At 11:53 PM 4/10/2006, Don.Colless at CSIRO.AU wrote:
>Anyone silly enough to get involved in this thread will soon find himself
>arguing about the meaning of "real"

THAT precisely what I have always wondered about this question.  What does
"real" mean?  Why is it important that they be so?   It smacks too much of
metaphysics for my taste.

I suppose a species is as "real" as any ASSEMBLAGE can be.  Is a family
real?  Is a flock real? Is a city real?  They are different from an
individual, to be sure, but then, there is a lot of difference in what
constitutes an "individual" in this world.

The simple fact that we can PERCEIVE species means that we can DESCRIBE
them and USE them in our attempts to understand the world, and in the end,
THAT is what matters, IMO.

Thomas G. Lammers, Ph.D.

Associate 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
phone:      920-424-1002
fax:           920-424-1101

Plant systematics; classification, nomenclature, evolution, and
biogeography of the Campanulaceae s. lat.

"Today's mighty oak is yesterday's nut that stood his ground."
                                                               -- Anonymous

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