[Taxacom] Mona Lisa Smile

Richard Pyle deepreef at bishopmuseum.org
Mon Jul 31 00:57:09 CDT 2006

Just now read Pierre's excellent post, to which I would like to add some
clarification in the context of my prvious post: 

> When Richard states that a classification is not a 
> hypothesis, I would specify that I see classifications as 
> contextually relevant conveniences, while they may refer to 
> some hypotheses about some biological properties of organisms 
> (e.g. not alphabetic order, however useful such kind of 
> classification may be for some uses). 

Yes -- exactly (as well as the following paragraph in Pierre's post).  The
classification is not itself a hypothesis, though the underlying basis for
the classification (e.g., phylogenies; ecological guilds; morphological
functions; etc.) may well be testable hypotheses.  I would propose a
classification of "kinds of arguments" in taxonomy, contaning only two
clusters: 1) arguments about things that can be tested; and 2) arguments
about conventions of nomenclature.

An example of the first would be whether the phylogenetic hypothesis ((AB)C)
more accurately reflects actual evolutionary history than the phylogenetic
hypotheses (A(BC)).

An example of the second is how best to apply a nomenclatural classification
to these three taxa.

We will likely to continue to improve our skills at addressing the former
through scientific investigation. No amount of scientific testing will
address the latter.

> Just a timid suggestion: what about "hatred of things getting 
> worse while favoring usefulness and stability for everyone, 
> based on the general philosophy of well balanced middlegrounds"?

Works for me... :-)


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