[Taxacom] Mona Lisa Smile

Richard Pyle deepreef at bishopmuseum.org
Wed Jul 26 08:30:31 CDT 2006

> At 06:13 AM 7/26/2006, pierre deleporte wrote:
> >I my view, the worst "divorce from reality" (I would rather say: 
> >"divorce from realism") could well be the lasting belief in the Holy 
> >Grail of a unique, universal, optimal-for-all-purposes 
> classification.
> Of course not, for the simple reason that (as I constantly remind my
> students) A Classification Is A Hypothesis.  As such, 
> classifications are constantly being tested, a process that 
> either supports them or fails to support them.  That's why 
> taxonomy IS science.
> That does not mean that we cannot arrive at a classification 
> that withstand repeated testing and so achieve a modicum of 
> long-term stability and broad utility, perhaps to the point 
> where we would call it a "theory."

I don't think that was Pierre's point.  I think he was saying that there are many "correct" (optimal?) classifications, depending on the axis around which you want to arrange your classification (phylogenetic vs. ecological vs. phenetic, etc.)  The "Classification Is A Hypothesis" approach you advocate (to which I do not personally subscribe), seems to imply that there is some sort of singular "natural" classification "out there", against which these classification hypotheses can be "tested".

We've had this conversation before on this forum, and I'm pretty sure I know Pierre's position on this (which is very similar to my own). I rely on him to correct me if I'm wrong.


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