[Taxacom] [tdwg] Semantic Web: What is a species?

Kirk Fitzhugh kfitzhug at nhm.org
Thu Jan 29 23:04:59 CST 2009


There's no problem to speak of species as not being real, except in the context of representing one of our classes of hypotheses accounting for particular properties of organisms. Acknowledging that species are such hypotheses doesn't require invoking metaphysics in lieu of 'science' and certainly doesn't compromise events under the heading of 'speciation.'

Why are species special? Tokogeny refers to events involving organisms, phylogeny refers to more inclusive events involving organisms. The naturalness of those events is no less special than those to which species refer.


-----Original Message-----

Although my general views on this subject are probably well-documented, 
if not well-remembered (e.g., if species aren't real, the study of 
speciation is metaphysics, not science), but this is exactly an issue 
that I have considered in the same light.

Are species "special"? I think so, but only because they mark the 
boundary between tokogenetic and phylogenetic patterns; I don't see them 
as "more natural". I think extraterrestrials would need some study to 
come to that level of conclusion, whether or not they agreed or disagreed.

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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