[Taxacom] Fwd: Teleology Revisited

JF Mate aphodiinaemate at gmail.com
Mon Mar 11 09:49:30 CDT 2013

The reasons for David Winter´s choice of purpose rather than function?
Or the reasons for some people picking on that particular sentence? I
haven´t the foggiest to be honest. Who knows what goes on in people´s
heads when they are writing? Maybe Mr Winter was thinking of cetaceans
at the time?

My issue is not so much talking/writing for the sake of it. I quite
enjoy it. I just think it was a form of character assasination. Had it
been me, I would have just brought up the interchangeability (not
endorsing it here, I agree that they are totally different) of the
words "purpose" and "function" in casual conversation, and the
potential pitfalls that this entails. No need to copy/paste anybody´s
links. That would have been fair and a better way to introduce the
topic. Instead it feels like the chap is on trial for choosing the
wrong word in the thesaurus.



On 11 March 2013 15:34,  <Robinwbruce at aol.com> wrote:
> Well, for starters, what might be the right reasons?
> Cheers
> Robin
> In a message dated 3/11/2013 2:04:15 P.M. GMT Standard Time,
> aphodiinaemate at gmail.com writes:
> Oh dear. Have we become so obfuscated with words that we fail to grasp
> sarcasm? Or maybe it is the inability to understand double meaning
> that has started this thread? If some people find fault in the use of
> ambiguous words (english, a pigdin language, is a rich source) then
> maybe they would prefer them gone from the discourse in
> biology/science.  David Winter´s choice of words may  have been
> unfortunate (it has certainly been painful), but it was a blog, and in
> context his wording was not teleological. Curtis Clark said it quite
> clearly and succintly:
> "Purpose" is often used as an unfortunate substitute for "function" by
> biologists. Sloppy writing doesn't always mean sloppy thinking.
> Yet here we are, 4 days later, still arguing the socioreligious
> inuendo of words. A fascinating topic I´m sure, but started for the
> wrong reasons. Now fire away.
> Best
> Jason
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