[Taxacom] Phylogenetic classification? (and a masterpiece by Knox)

Stephen Thorpe s.thorpe at auckland.ac.nz
Sun Jul 26 23:15:55 CDT 2009

Jim: the logical structure of your argument below doesn't exactly jump  
out at me! I said: Objectivity alone doesn't imply truth
you reply with: 'If objectivity, repeatability, testability and  
predictability are not at least an approximation of a workable  truth,  
then taxonomy and systematics as a science might have a little bit of  
a problem'
OK, so I'm assuming that you don't think science has the "little"  
problem, so you do think that objectivity and those other things are  
(taken together) at least an approximation of a "workable truth". So  
let me comment on this:

(1) "workable truth"??? Not quite sure what that means in the context  
of pure science? Maybe "workable truth" = staying in paid work as a  

(2) objectivity = repeatability (please don't call one thing by two  
different names and claim to have two good points instead of one!)

(3) maybe predictability is a kind of testability, so again one point,  
not two!

(4) as I said, objectivity (=repeatability) alone doesn't imply truth,  
so the question now becomes: does objectivity together with  
testability (e.g., predictability) imply truth? Then I think we are  
back to the incomplete data problem: potential falsifiers may not be  
available for the reasons given before. The theory is being tested  
against incomplete data. I guess it depends how incomplete, but that I  
do not know...


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