[Taxacom] The Reality (or not) of Species (again!)`

Curtis Clark jcclark-lists at earthlink.net
Sun Sep 14 22:59:11 CDT 2008

On 2008-09-14 14:57, Jim Croft wrote:
> The question 'are species real?' is so emotionally laden because the
> unspoken corollary is that if species are not 'real', then they must
> be somehow 'not real', unreal, imaginary, fictional, arbitrary, and
> all the rest that negative and unflavoursome to scientists.  That is
> why I do not like the question.

An on the other hand, mathematicians do interesting and productive 
things with imaginary numbers.

> On the other hand, if you were to ask 'are species a useful concept?'
> or 'are species concepts meaningful?' you can have a more constructive
> and less defensive debate - and the questions work both specifically
> and generally.  Even if you regard species as a convenient politely
> agreed simplification or abstraction of the detail of what is 'really'
> going on at a character/genetic/molecular level and what has been
> going on historically, there can be very little debate over their
> utility - without them we could not communicate.

I'm happy with this way of looking at things...as long as it is applied 
to populations, individuals, genes, molecules, atoms, and quarks as 
well. My objection is to the use of "species not real" as an excuse for 
ignoring entire levels of evolutionary pattern and process.

Curtis Clark                  http://www.csupomona.edu/~jcclark/
Director, I&IT Web Development                   +1 909 979 6371
University Web Coordinator, Cal Poly Pomona

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