[Taxacom] Cladifications are NOT classifications (Mona Lisa frowning)

Ken Kinman kinman at hotmail.com
Mon Jul 31 09:54:09 CDT 2006

     Seems that we are getting bogged down again in another semantic 
quagmire.  Perhaps it would be more useful if you could direct your 
arguments against those published by Eric Knox (1998) and Kent Carpenter 
(1993).  Knox defends the new eclecticism from a theoretical and 
philosophical standpoint, while Carpenter offers mathematical models for 
putting the new eclecticism into practice.  The ONLY difference between 
Carpenter's classifications and mine is that I believe my alphanumeric 
coding is a little more user friendly.  Our philosophy is the same.

    When Knox referred to cladistic classifications as an oxymoron, he was 
clearly referring to strictly cladistic classifications (cladifications, as 
Ernst Mayr called them).  It's a real shame that U.S. funding agencies (in 
particular) continue to be so biased in favor of such "strict" and 
suboptimal cladifications in major databases, scientific publication, and 
biological research funding in general.  Anyway, I posted the citations to 
these papers on the old taxacom over four years ago (SEE BELOW):
Date: Tue, 15 Jan 2002 18:32:54 -0600
Sender: Taxacom Discussion List <TAXACOM at USOBI.ORG>
From: Ken Kinman <kinman at HOTMAIL.COM>
Subject: Three great papers (cladistics; paraphyly)

Three Recommended papers:
     (1) Eric Knox, 1998; (2) Kent E. Carpenter, 1993; and last but not 
least  (3) Ernst Mayr, 1998. Citations and my comments below:
     (1) "The use of hierarchies as organizational models in systematics" by 
Eric B. Knox, 1998.  Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 63:1-49.  
Quoting from the abstract of this paper:  "Descent has conceptual priority 
over modification, but the organizational relationship is not exclusive.  
'Cladistic classification' is an oxymoron because cladistics lacks the class 
concepts needed to construct a classification, a point recognized by those 
who suggest abandoning Linnaean classification in favour of a newly devised 
monophyletic systematization."  Wonderful paper, and does a lot better job 
of explaining this stuff than I ever could.  It is very theoretical, but my 
next recommendation was already putting some of these ideas into practice in 
     (2)  Great example of how to put good theories to good work is: 
"Optimal Cladistic and Quantitative Evolutionary Classifications as 
Illustrated by Fusilier Fishes (Caesionidae)" by Kent E. Carpenter, 1993 
(Syst. Zool., 42:142-154).  By the way, Farris 1979 is one of the references 
listed.  Carpenter's is an excellent paper which I'm sure Ashlock would have 
greatly enjoyed.  Cladogram, Multistate Character Index, Optimality
Test----just like a "real" cladist.  But he goes further and also does a 
Quantitative evolutionary systematic analysis, then uses a minimal amount of 
paraphyly, and produces a very optimal classification (which I would call 
cladisto-eclectic).  Great paper, but I guess that little bit of paraphyly 
means he isn't a "real" cladist according to Tom DiBenedetto.  Does that 
mean Carpenter did all that extra work and put more information in his
classification for nothing?   Obviously not, and I think Carpenter is a 
"real" optimal cladist, from whom strict cladists could perhaps learn a 
thing or two.  And by the way, some of my own classifications are completely 
cladistic, so I guess that make me at least a part-time "real" cladist, even 
according to Tom's definition.
    (3)  Having read papers by those two younger guys (one a botanist and 
one a zoologist), you might want to look at it from a bacteriological 
perspective from someone who is better known: Ernst Mayr. 1998.  "Two 
Empires or Three" (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci.,
95:9720-9723).  Since Ernst named me in his acknowledgments, I guess that 
makes me bias, but I think it's a great paper.
            --------Ken Kinman

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