[Taxacom] Hennig vs. Mayr (was: All levels of organisation and manifestation should be acknowledged...)

Ken Kinman kinman at hotmail.com
Fri Nov 9 07:57:55 CST 2012

Hi Greg,
         I had to reread the arguments in Hennig (1975).  And his point 6 (which you noted in particular) is such a simplistic straw man argument, it's almost laughable.  Using the example of a paraphyletic Class Reptilia (and its exgroup Class Aves), he doesn't even include the Dinosauria (which gave rise to Aves).  So Hennig ignores the extinct taxa and he gets a nice clean sister group of Crocodylia to Aves.  I suspect Mayr might have gotten a good laugh from that argument, or perhaps he just found it as annoying as I do.            
       I don't see any credible "evisceration of Mayr's arguments" in this or any of Hennig's other responses. In any case, one can easily place an {{Aves}} exgroup marker within Class Reptilia and Order Dinosauria, and you thus explicitly show the phylogenetic placement of the removed exgroup (in this case, Class Aves).  It's like having your cake and eating it too (making it possible to fully cladify a classification without the need to destroy useful and stabilizing paraphyletic taxa). 
P.S.  I don't think that it is any accident that the founder of Hennigism was a dipterist.  So many clades of Diptera survived the Cretaceous extinction that you can safely ignore the fossil record and still get fairly clean and informative cladifications.  You can't do that with Class Reptilia (especially the Dinosauria sensu stricto), unless you are creating a straw man on purpose.    

> From: greg at ditsong.org.za
> To: kinman at hotmail.com; taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] All levels of organisation and manifestation should be acknowledged for the classificatory and evolutionary value that is inherent in them
> Date: Fri, 9 Nov 2012 10:42:35 +0200
> The reasons for the rejection of paraphyletic taxa were lucidly and 
> explicitly outlined by Willi Hennig in his detailed response to Mayr 
> (Hennig, 1975), in particular the assertion that paraphyletic taxa in 
> classifications are more informative or useful (see particularly Hennig's 
> point 6). In the 37 years since Hennig's evisceration of Mayr's arguments, 
> there has been no logical or incisive riposte to Hennig's standpoint from 
> those disagreeing, instead we get emotive and vague rhetoric (e.g., 
> "holophyly worship"; "paraphyly bashing").
> It is disappointing to see the low intellectual calibre of these "debates" 
> on classification circulating on Taxacom. If you wish to be taken seriously, 
> address the logic and theoretical basis to phylogenetic (cladistic) 
> classification rather than dealing in bald assertions.
> ref:
> Hennig, W., 1975. Cladistic analysis or cladistic classification? a reply to 
> Ernst Mayr. Systematic Zoology 24(2): 244-256.
> Greg Davies
> *************************************************
> G.B.P. Davies
> Curator of Birds
> Ditsong National Museum of Natural History
> (formerly Transvaal Museum)
> P.O. Box 413
> Pretoria
> South Africa
> 0001
> Tel: 012-000-0040
> Cell: 074-467-1635
> greg at ditsong.org.za
> Street address:
> Cnr Paul Kruger & Visagie Streets
> Pretoria
> Gauteng
> 25.45'11"S: 28.11'21.6"E
> **********************************************
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: "Ken Kinman" <kinman at hotmail.com>
> To: <nicholasa at ukzn.ac.za>; <richard.zander at mobot.org>; 
> <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
> Sent: Thursday, November 08, 2012 5:58 PM
> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] All levels of organisation and manifestation should 
> be acknowledged for the classificatory and evolutionary value that is 
> inherent in them
> >
> > Hi Ashley,
> > Here, here. Agree completely, and many others do too. Not that our 
> > heads would go on the chopping block, but our heads do get sore banging up 
> > against that brick wall (of holophyly worship coupled with paraphyly 
> > bashing). You would think branding paraphyletic taxa with a "Scarlet 
> > letter" P would satisfy them (Thomas Cavalier-Smith uses a * symbol, and I 
> > use a % symbol for paraphyletic taxa). But explicit marking of 
> > paraphyletic taxa doesn't satisfy them, and they just want to destroy them 
> > (not just bash them), no matter how informative and useful such taxa can 
> > be. Few of them seem willing to even discuss possible compromise of any 
> > sort on this subject.
> > -------------Ken
> >
> >

More information about the Taxacom mailing list